"A kiss on the hand may be quite continental,
But diamonds are a girl's best friend…"
—- "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"
Diamond is a crystalline form of carbon. It's dazzling beauty make it a valuable gemstone once dressed, although the uncut diamond is a dull, unprepossessing thing, easily overlooked. It is also the hardest of all minerals, making it extremely useful in industrial applications.
They are formed deep in the earth, and are usually found in volcanic pipes, igneous rock formations that have been extruded to the surface by volcanic action; although sometimes they can be found in glacial deposits. The Kimberley diamond fields in South Africa are perhaps the most famous in the world, but there are also significant diamond mines in South America, Russia and Australia.
In some places in Africa, revolutionary groups have seized diamond mines and use the sale of diamonds, called "Blood Diamonds", to fund their operations, aided by the fact that the diamond is currently, by the carat, the worlds most valuable gemstone. The medieval world, by contrast, had a relatively low consideration for diamonds which they struggled to dress effectively due to their hardness. The word diamond is the source of the word adamant … a byword for hardness.
The high modern price of diamonds is largely the result of the activities of the De Beers cartel - the free market price would likely be a great deal lower and historically the ruby was regarded as the most valuable of the first grade stones.
Traditional jeweler's diamonds are colourless and of the highest possible translucency, whilst industrial and artificial diamonds generally tend to be less visually impressive. Diamonds can also be found in tinges of blue and yellow as a result of mineral impurities, the values of which rise and fall dependant on fashion.
Game and Story Use
- The PCs might be searching for a diamond mine
- Of course, sinister international forces might conspire against the opening of a new mine - or at least, for control of its output…
- Or, they might discover a source of diamonds while exploring a remote location.
- Mention blue clay and the more genre-savvy players will start scooping it up
- Some of the earliest findings from the South African diamond mines were as a result of rough diamonds appearing in ostrich droppings.
- A large and valuable diamond, like the Hope Diamond might be an important MacGuffin
- The hardness of diamonds is a common plot point, especially when it comes to cutting messages into glass with their points.
- Diamonds also burn … something to remember for trigger happy wizards.