CARATs are forever – What makes a diamond “forever”?

It is perhaps one of the most widely recognized advertising slogans in modern history, yet there is much truth behind the phrase, with these shiny rocks possessing rare physical properties and new emerging uses that ensure their value will remain “forever”.

In the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s, De Beers, the British diamond corporation, was facing plummeting sales of the jewels. The shiny rocks were considered a luxurious extravagance, and deemed superfluous to the vast majority of consumers. In order to stem their losses, the company hired an ad agency that came up with what would be crowned the ‘Top Advertising Slogan’ of the 20th century – “A Diamond is Forever”. Through clever marketing campaigns, De Beers managed to instill within the Western culture the idea that there is no better symbol of everlasting love than a diamond, and that, only by presenting your loved one with a diamond ring, could you truly convey the depth and permanence of your convictions. Since then, it has become almost unthinkable for a man to propose to his partner without a diamond ring.


While this anecdote is cute, there is serious substance behind De Beer’s claim of the permanence of diamonds. First, on the physical level, these shiny rocks are gifted with a number of unique attributes giving them an unprecedented level exude robustness and strength. Diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth. Without proper technique, it is nearly impossible to break or shatter them. Additionally, they have a number of special chemical properties which make them useful in a variety of utilities and functions (more on that below). In fact, diamonds are so unique and strong that they have been lauded as the most concentrated store of value on the planet.


However, diamonds’ physical composition is not their only level of permanence. Diamonds’ high value and worth seems to be destined for everlasting heights as well. Far from being only objects of luxury and jewelry, diamonds have been used in a number of industries and sectors throughout history, and as time goes on, additional utilities keep on being added to the list. As mentioned above, unique chemical structures of diamonds keep on being discovered and put to use.


One example of this is diamonds’ role in the quantum computing revolution.  In this case, they’ve been found to hold a very specific atomic impurity called an “N-V Center”. This consists of a single nitrogen atom causing a carbon vacancy in the rock (all microscopic, of course). This vacancy can be used by engineers to emit electrons in a dual on and off state simultaneously, forming the basis of any quantum computer (emitting both “0”’s and “1”’s at the same time). As more and more uses are found for diamonds, their value will continue to be high.


What originated as a catchy and wildly successful advertising slogan has since gone on to be proven by fact. Diamonds’ physical rigor, together with their unique value to society, are permanent and “forever”.


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