Carbonados: Black Diamonds from Outer Space?

Carbonado is a porous black diamond found in alluvial deposits in only a handful of places in the world, the largest deposits are in Brazil and The Central African Republic.

Carbonado - a diamond from outer space?

Carbonado – a diamond from outer space?

What is intriguing about them is the mystery surrounding where they came from. As of today, there is no commonly accepted explanation for how they got to where they are.

Carbonado is a Portuguese word meaning ‘burnt’ or ‘carbonized’. The material was given this name because it was first discovered in Brazil in the 1840s.

This is because the geological clues that normally indicate diamond deposits are not present where carbonados are found. There are also no kimberlites anywhere near carbonado sights.

Kimberlites – pipes formed from massive explosions from deep within the Earth which help bring diamonds to the surface.

So, where the heck did they come from?

One theory put forth by Stephen Haggerty, Ph.D. from Florida International University has gained some traction in recent years; however, it is by no means a commonly accepted theory.

Haggerty poses that carbonados are diamonds from outer space formed during a supernova. After the stellar explosion, these diamonds hurtled through space for millions of years then finally crashed into the Earth’s atmosphere, shattering into small pieces, which then landed in an area (present-day Brazil and The Central African Republic) which were still a connected land mass at the time this occurred. And that time was between 2.6 billion and 3.8 billion years ago.

Okay … and where did Stephen Haggerty come up with that?

For starters, carbonados contain hydrogen. This is different from regular diamonds. The hydrogen content leads scientists to believe they were formed in space – a hydrogen-rich environment. Secondly, unlike a regular diamond which is composed of a single crystal, carbonados are aggregates. Thirdly, their carbon isotopes are not like the ones found in ‘regular diamonds’ that come from deep within the Earth. Carbonados also show an absorption spectrum similar to other diamonds found in meteorites, as well as diamonds seen in space. And lastly, they have inclusions – silicon carbide and iron-nickel clusters – as found in meteorites and stardust.

The Spirit of de Grisogono

The Spirit of de Grisogono

Incredibly, carbonados sometimes come in sizes that are large and ‘clean’ enough to be cut and used in jewelry.

The most famous example is The Spirit of DiGrisogono – uncut weight of 587 carats and finished weight of 312.24 carats.

The Spirit of DiGrisogono is the fifth largest diamond in the world overall!


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