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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.) 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.Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at standard conditions.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.The conditions for diamond formation to happen in the lithospheric mantle occur at considerable depth corresponding to the requirements of temperature and pressure.
Through studies of carbon isotope ratios (similar to the methodology used in carbon dating, except with the stable isotopes C-12 and C-13), it has been shown that the carbon found in diamonds comes from both inorganic and organic sources.
Diamonds are brought close to the Earth's surface through deep volcanic eruptions by magma, which cools into igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites.
Diamonds can also be produced synthetically in a HPHT method which approximately simulates the conditions in the Earth's mantle.
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).
An alternative, and completely different growth technique is chemical vapor deposition (CVD).