Why thieves will be disappointed stealing diamonds from research labs

A diamond’s ability to sparkle is what make it unique and natural diamonds are exceptionally good at this, says Professor Martyn Poliakoff in his series Periodic Table of Videos.

“Diamond has a very high refractive index. It bends light very strongly,” says Poliakoff, who is also a chemist at the University of Nottingham.

Poliakoff shows off some of the uses of diamonds in labs, which are valued for their optical properties and high strength. Synthetic diamonds are preferred because they cost less.

He says the odd diamond is stolen from research institutes, but the thieves find little value for these industrial diamonds on the black market. Natural diamonds are superior.

“Manufactured diamonds do not usually have the same high optical quality that makes natural diamonds so beautiful, because natural diamonds have been made under high pressure and sat under the ground for millions of years.

“And the tiny imperfections, which really don’t matter much to scientists, have essentially disappeared because the diamond has been heated so long that they can defuse out so you get these really perfect crystals.

“So I don’t think that the high market jewellry market is yet being threatened by synthetic diamonds.”

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