At the University of Melbourne, a rare, eight-carat diamond has been smashed to smithereens in a bid to discover the secrets of its origin and a potential ‘mother lode’ of diamonds.
Professor David Phillips, Head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, recently took a hammer to the diamond to extract two rare, emerald-coloured inclusions.
The inclusions are made of a green mineral called clinopyroxene, which contains small amounts of radioactive potassium.
This makes it possible to date when the diamonds erupted out of a volcano, after they were formed inside. Knowing this makes it easier to hunt down the original source and the all-important ‘mother lode’ of diamonds.
“It’s like looking for a unique word in ‘War and Peace’ and instead of having to search the whole book, you only have to look through a handful of pages,” Professor Phillips says.