Why yes–you can break a diamond. In fact, you can break a diamond during the normal wear of your diamond jewelry.
You’ve probably heard that diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man. This is generally considered to be true, due to the internal lattice-like structure of carbon atoms that make up a diamond. This structure makes diamonds durable and resistant to scratches, but that doesn't mean they're indestructible.
Keep reading to learn what can break a diamond, so you can know how to avoid breaking a diamond, and what to do if your diamond breaks.
How Do You Break A Diamond?
Every fine jeweler has a collection of chipped and broken diamonds they've collected from their customers over the years. When asked how their diamonds were damaged, most customers can only shrug their shoulders and say, "I don't know!" or “I wasn’t doing anything!”
The truth is, most people put their fine jewelry through a lot of wear and tear without realizing it, just through the kinds of movements they make on a daily basis. A diamond won't shatter if you drop it, but it could absolutely chip from a powerful, accidental blow. And don’t forget, a diamond is a very small object as compared to your body. So, sometimes movements that you would consider “nothing,” actually result in an incredible amount of pound-force being applied to the much-smaller-than-you diamond, thus possibly breaking a diamond.
So, if you want to avoid breaking a diamond, wear your diamond rings and bracelets during times when you are mindful of the movements of your arms and hands. In other words, since you can break a diamond through knocks and blows, it is ill-advised to wear your diamond jewelry while struggling to lift something heavy or unwieldy, or while working out..since both activities require you to focus on hard work rather than graceful movement.
If your day job involves lots of sudden or urgent movements (nursing comes to mind) that might result in your jewelry clanking against hard surfaces, consider that you can break a diamond during such times. Wearing pieces to work that are not embellished with diamonds (such as a silicone or plain gold band) will serve you best to avoid breaking your diamond rings.
How Strong Are Diamonds?
In a fracture toughness test, a natural diamond measures fairly high (2.0 MPa-m1/2) which is good compared to other gemstones like aquamarine, but poor compared to the toughness of most engineering materials. While there may not be many naturally-occurring materials out there that are stronger than diamonds, certain man-made metals like tungsten and steel have a higher tensile strength. That means a direct hit with an ordinary hammer can absolutely break a diamond.
How To Avoid Breaking Your Diamonds
People commonly break their diamond jewelry in the form of chips on the girdle, where the prongs grip the diamond’s outer edge; or in the case of fancy shapes that have points, one of the points can catch on a sharp surface and break off.
To avoid breaking or damaging your diamonds, be mindful of making erratic movements that may cause your diamonds or fine jewelry to be accidentally hit. Remove your diamond rings and earrings before swimming or exposure to heavy lotions or harsh chemicals that may weaken the integrity of your diamond settings. When not in use, store your precious diamonds in a safe place wrapped in a soft cloth or kept in a box. In essence, treat them with the utmost care.
To learn even more about how you can avoid breaking a diamond, you can read our blog on The 7 Don'ts of Fine Jewelry Care.
What To Do If You Broke Your Diamond?
So, let’s say that despite your best efforts, you did manage to break a diamond. Most broken diamonds can be recut by a professional diamond cutter. Alara is proud to have Maarten de Witte (founder of the American Diamond Cutting School) as our diamond cutter, and he regularly performs miracles on broken diamonds. Typically, provided a diamond hasn’t cleaved into two nearly-equal pieces or shattered, his ability to retain weight is unparalleled. He can either cut diamonds in the same cutting style as it originally had--or make suggestions for changes or improvements. Of course, at some point, re-cutting a diamond is not sensible from a monetary perspective. So, since you now know diamond re-cutting is possible in case of a diamond breaking, there is still the consideration of the cost of repairing a broken diamond.
The best financial protection against damaged diamonds is good jewelry insurance coverage. Obviously, insurance needs to be in place before you set about breaking a diamond. Partial losses, such as chipped stones, aren't typically covered under regular homeowners policies. To ensure your jewelry is protected against all kinds of losses, choose a standalone insurance policy for your jewelry like the ones offered by Alara Jewelry. To protect yourself from damage to the setting, Alara recommends a jewelry maintenance plan, which requires regular jewelry inspections and cleanings (at no cost to you).