14k White Gold Shared Prong Round Cut Diamond Eternity Ring

Diamonds are eternal, and gold is valuable, but which is rarer? And does the rarity have any bearing on the price we see in a jewelry store?

As it turns out, the answer isn’t as “clear-cut” as you may expect.

Gold, a heavy metal, is one of the Earth’s rarest elements, generated by neutron star collisions, according to Ulrich Faul, an Earth scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The heaviest atoms then moved into Earth’s core throughout its creation, according to Yana Fedortchouk, an Earth sciences professor and co-director of the Experimental High-Pressure Geological Research Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. That implies that substantial amounts of gold are difficult to discover near the Earth’s crust.

It is, nevertheless, present in low amounts. Fedortchouk told Live Science that it’s “found in a wide range of rocks in the crust.” “However, in order to create a deposit, it must reach particular concentrations in order for mining to be economically viable.”

Fedortchouk claims that the typical concentration of gold in the Earth’s crust is “very, very low,” at 4 parts per billion. The gold deposit would have to be 1,250 times more concentrated to yield any minable concentration of gold that might be of market worth, she added.


Diamonds, on the other hand, are a very compressed version of a fairly common element: carbon. It’s known as graphite in its non-pressurized form – the substance in pencils. According to “Fluids in the Earth’s Crust: Their Significance in Metamorphic, Tectonic, and Chemical Transport Processes” (Elsevier Science Ltd., 1978), a book written by the late geologist William Fyfe, the average concentration of carbon in the Earth’s crust is approximately 200,000 parts per billion.

As a result, the rarity of diamonds has nothing to do with their elemental makeup; rather, the natural transformation of carbon into mineable diamonds is a difficult (and seldom successful) process.

“Diamonds can only be made in the Earth’s mantle and taken to the surface, or they may be formed following a meteorite impact,” Fedortchouk said, but such diamonds are little and never jewels. (The mantle is the Earth’s layer underneath the crust.) “Diamonds created deep in the Earth’s mantle may be carried up by deep magma or pushed up by gradual uplift of deep materials during mountain formation processes. However, with sluggish uplift, diamonds graphitize [change into graphite] and never reach the surface as gemstones.”

Diamond formation requires the following formula, which is affected by depth, temperature, and pressure: Carbon is buried at least 93 miles (150 kilometers) under the Earth’s surface, heated to nearly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,204 degrees Celsius) under approximately 725,000 pounds per square inch (5 billion pascals), and then swiftly delivered to the surface to cool. According to Fedortchouk, this amazing process makes natural, mineable diamonds rarer than gold.

However, in its elemental form, gold is substantially rarer than diamonds, according to Faul. After all, carbon is one of the most plentiful elements on Earth, particularly when compared to heavier metals like gold, and diamond is essentially a high-pressure mixture of carbon.


The development of synthetic diamonds complicates matters even further. Scientists can recreate the conditions required to turn graphite into diamonds in a lab — no volcanic explosion required — but gold cannot (sadly, alchemy is still a pseudoscience). Despite the fact that synthetic diamonds are formed of the same material as genuine diamonds, synthetic diamonds often sell for 30% less on the market since they are not deemed as precious, according to a diamond designer.

Is it true, however, that the very presence of lab-created diamonds makes these jewels more widespread than we previously thought? Faul contends that it does: “Diamonds under a particular size aren’t worth mining in the first place,” he said. “Who wants to purchase a diamond that requires a magnifying lens to see? Gold is more plentiful than huge diamonds, yet diamonds as a material class are not exceptionally scarce. I believe a large portion of their notoriety stems from their excellent public relations!”

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