Are Diamonds Indestructible?
Can I drive my car over my diamond? Can I hit my diamond with a sledgehammer? Is my diamond indestructible? I broke my diamond, am I Superman? The Answer is NO!
These are some of the questions people ask me about diamonds. I know you may have heard that diamonds are the hardest thing in the world, and this might lead you to think that a diamond cannot break or be destroyed. Let me explain this confusing issue and why you don't have to be Superman to break a diamond.
This has to do with hardness vs toughness. Let us use two things that you can easily find at home and try a non-scientific experiment. Get a drinking glass and a leather belt.
Using your fingernails, try to scratch the glass. It is not possible to scratch the glass. If you tried to scratch the belt, you might damage it, because your fingernails can scratch the leather.
The glass cannot be scratched because it is HARD.
Okay now take the belt and drop it from shoulder height. Nothing should happen to your belt, but if you dropped the glass, I am sure it would break.
The leather belt did not break or shatter because it is TOUGH.
HARD objects resist scratches, but can easily break.
TOUGH objects resist breaking but can be easily scratched.
I hope this helps you understand why a diamond can break. When we say diamonds are the hardest substance this is a reference to its ability to resist scratches. The Gemstone Hardness Chart will show you the hardness of some popular gems.