January 23, 2019
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The Place of Diamonds in Mineralogy

In mineralogy, diamond is a metastable allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek αδάμας(adámas), “proper”, “unalterable”, “unbreakable”, “untamed”, from ἀ- (a-), “un-” + δαμάω(damáō), “I overpower”, “I tame”.  Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India, where significant alluvial deposits of the stone could be found many centuries ago along the rivers Penner, Krishna and Godavari. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3,000 years but most likely 6,000 years. [5] Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons in ancient India. Their usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history.[6] The popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative and successful advertising campaigns.  In 1772,  french chemist Antoine Lavoisier [7] used a lens to concentrate the rays of the sun on a diamond in an atmosphere of oxygen, and showed that the only product of the combustion was carbon dioxide, proving that diamond is composed of carbon. Later in 1797, English chemist Smithson Tennant [8] repeated and expanded that experiment.[9] By demonstrating that burning diamond and graphite releases the same amount of gas he established the chemical equivalence of these substances. [10] The most familiar use of diamonds today is as gemstones used for adornment, a use which dates back into antiquity. The dispersion of white light into spectral colors is the primary gemological characteristic of gem diamonds. In the 20th century, experts in gemology have developed methods of grading diamonds and other gemstones based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem. Four characteristics, known informally as the four Cs, are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: these are caratcutcolor, and clarity. [11] A large, flawless diamond is known as a paragon. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at standard conditions. Diamond is renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities, most of which originate from the strong covalent bonding between its atoms. In particular, diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any bulk material. Those properties determine the major industrial application of diamond in cutting and polishing tools and the scientific applications in diamond knives and diamond anvil cells. Because of its extremely rigid lattice, it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities, such as boron and nitrogen. Small amounts of defects or impurities (about one per million of lattice atoms) color diamond blue (boron), yellow (nitrogen), brown (lattice defects), green (radiation exposure), purple, pink, orange or red. Diamond also has relatively high optical dispersion (ability to disperse light of different colors). The formation of natural diamond requires very specific conditions—exposure of carbon-bearing materials to high pressure, ranging approximately between 45 and 60 kilobars (4.5 and 6 GPa), but at a comparatively low temperature range between approximately 900 and 1,300 °C (1,650 and 2,370 °F). These conditions are met in two places on Earth; in the lithospheric mantle below relatively stable continental plates, and at the site of a meteorite strike. [12] Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers (87 to 118 mi) in the Earth’s mantle. Carbon-containing minerals provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over periods from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years (25% to 75% of the age of the Earth). Diamonds are brought close to the Earth′s surface through deep volcanic eruptions by a magma, which cools into igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites. Diamonds can also be produced synthetically in a high-pressure high-temperature process which approximately simulates the conditions in the Earth’s mantle. An alternative, and completely different growth technique is chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Several non-diamond materials, which include cubic zirconia and silicon carbide and are often called “diamond simulants,” resemble diamond in appearance and many properties. Special gemological techniques have been developed to distinguish natural and synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants.

The Symbolism of the Diamond

Mainly because of its outstanding material attributes of herdness, transluscence and brightness the diamond have been made a pre-eminent symbol of perfection. [13]   Indian ancient mineralogy maintained that it was born in the Earth in an embryonic shape, and that Crystal represented an intermediate state in its development, the diamond being “mature” and the crystal “immature.” So in this perspective the diamond represents the “peak of development” and it represents the “perfect fullfilment” which Indian alchemists themselves employed symbolically by associating the diamond with immortality – in other word by identifying it with nothing less than the Philosopher’s Stone.  The diamond’s hardness and its stability to score and cut were particularly emphasized by Tantric Buddhists, for whom the Varja (diamond or Thunderbolt) was the symbol of immutable and all-conquering spiritual force. Etymoligically the equivalent Tibetan word, dordje, gives it the meaning of “Queen of Stones.”  It symbolizes light, brightness, the cutting edge of Enlightenment, the void and the interminate. [14]  In the Buddhist’s perspective the properties of the diamond are identical with Buddha’s nature; for what neither waxes nor wanes is the Diamond, the Zen patriarch Hui Neng taught.  Immutability is above all an “axial” characteristic, and this is why the Buddha’s throne, set at the foot of the Bodhi-tree, is a diamond throne.  This is also the reason why Plato describe the World axis as being made of diamond. [15]  Harbouring a dazzling brillance, the diamond come to share the symbolism of the center.   In Tibetan iconographh the dordje (diamond sceptre) stands opposed to the bell (tilpu) as the “diamond” world (potentiality and immanence) stands in contrast to the “phenomenal world” (the mother’s womb), the active principle to the passive and wisdom to method. [15]  The Western tradition consider the diamond as the symbol of universal sovereignty, of incorruptivity and absolute truth. [16]  According to Pliny it is a universal talisman and preservative against all poisons and diseases.  It drives away evil spirits and nightmares.  When dipped in wine or water diamonds are said to preserves the drinker from apoplexy, gout and jaundice. [17]  In western European tradition, diamonds drive off animals, ghosts, sorcerers and all the terrors of the night.  Russian Tradition ascribe to them the power of controlling lust and encouraging chastity. [18]  In France too, the diamond was supposed to bannish anger and to strenghten  the bonds of marriage, which led its being called the jewell of reconciliations.  It is said to contain innocence, wisdom and faithfulness.  In the language of iconography, the diamond is the symbol of constancy, strength and other heroic virtues.  Folkstales add that one diamond beget another – the ancestral origins of self-begotten wisdom.  The shape of the raw diamond must be compared with the belief which regards the cube as another symbol of truth, wisdom and moral perfection.  The device of the Medici family bore a diamond which stood as the symbol of divine love.  This interpretation was based upon a pun – diamante = dio (God) + amante(loving).  The Medici diamond has been interpreted as a symbol of the wisdom inherent in that family and of its triumph over itself and others.  When Bottoicelli depicted Minerva taming a centaur, he decorated the goddess’ dress with a diamond ring.  In Renaissance art the diamond also symbolies equanimity, courage in the face of adversity, the power to free the spirit from every fear, integrity of character and good faith.

Tree of Life Attribution

The precious stone correspondence for Kether is the diamond according to Crowley’s classification.[1]  The reasons he provided for this attribution is that “the diamond is white brillance; it is pure carbon, the foundation of all living structure.” [2] The diamond is attributed to Kether, according to Israel Regardie, “because it is the most permanent and glittering of precious jewels.” [3]  But in his book 777 Crowley goes a bit further using numerology: “The atomic weight is 12, the number of Hua, the title of Kether (but this is a reference to the Zodiac which makes the connection with Zero, on the one hand, and 2, on the other).” [4]


[1] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 10.
[2] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 102.
[3] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 40
[4] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley p. 102.
[5] Hershey, W. (1940). The Book of Diamonds. New York: Hearthside Press. pp. 22–28.
[6] Pliny the Elder (2004). Natural History: A Selection. Penguin Books. p. 371.
[7] Lavoisier is widely considered to be the “Father of Modern Chemistry.” It is generally accepted that Lavoisier’s great accomplishments in chemistry largely stem from the fact that he changed the science from a qualitative to a quantitative one. Lavoisier is most noted for his discovery of the role oxygen plays in combustion. He recognized and named oxygen (1778) and hydrogen (1783) and opposed the phlogiston theory. Lavoisier helped construct the metric system, wrote the first extensive list of elements, and helped to reform chemical nomenclature.
[8] Tennant is best known for his discovery of the elements iridium and osmium, which he found in the residues from the solution of platinum ores in 1803. He also contributed to the proof of the identity of diamond and charcoal.
[9] Smithson Tennant (1797) “On the nature of the diamond,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London87 : 123-127.
[10] Hazen, R. M (1999). The diamond makers. Cambridge University Press. pp. 7–10.
[11] Hesse, R. W. (2007). Jewelrymaking through history. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 42.
[12] Carlson, R.W. (2005). The Mantle and Core. Elsevier. p. 248.
[13] Jean Chevalier & Alain Geerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, p. 290.
[14] Jean Chevalier & Alain Geerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, p. 290.
[15] See Govinda, Lama Anagarika, Les Fondements de la Mystique Tibétaine, Paris, 1960; René Guenon, Les Symboles Fondamentaux de la Science Sacrée, Paris 1962; Seckel Dietrich,  The Art of Buddhism, London 1964)
[16] Jean Chevalier & Alain Geerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, p. 291.
[17] See Budge, Sir E.A. Wallis, Amulets and Superstitions, London 1930.
[18] Marques-Rivière, Jean, Amulette, Talismans et Pentacles dans les Traditions Orientales et Occidentales, Paris, 1938, p. 272.


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