The remarkable “Beating Heart” diamond, an extraordinary uncut gem of great rarity, has been recovered by the De Beers Group.

By Debbie Hathway
The ‘Beating Heart’ Diamond - Optical image showing a small diamond crystal nestled in the cavity of a 0.329ct rough diamond. Photo by Danny Bowler

The recovery of a rough diamond within a diamond, named the “Beating Heart” because of its unusual composition, has created a buzz in the industry as researchers and analysts have unravelled more of the mystery of its formation and structure.

Recovered by De Beers Group at one of its four global mining locations (Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa) late last year, the 0.329 carat, D-colour, Type IaAB diamond features an internal cavity that encapsulates a smaller diamond, allowing it the freedom to move within the hollow space.

The ‘Beating Heart’ Diamond – Optical image showing a small diamond crystal nestled in the cavity of a 0.329ct rough diamond. Photo by Danny Bowler

This distinctive diamond is one of a select few natural diamonds with comparable characteristics. A notable example is the renowned Matryoshka diamond, discovered in Siberia, Russia, and documented in 2019. Rather than being subjected to cutting and polishing, the “Beating Heart” diamond will be preserved in its natural state, serving as a valuable resource for research and educational endeavours. This preservation is made possible with the consent of De Beers Group Sightholder, VD Global (VDG), based in India, which alerted the De Beers Institute of Diamonds to the specimen in October 2022. Flagged as a potentially interesting natural anomaly, the diamond arrived at the Institute of Diamonds facility in Maidenhead, UK, the following month.

Instruments such as DiamondView and SYNTHdetect, created by the De Beers Group’s Ignite innovation team, were utilised in the initial examination of the diamond. The Ignite team develops and provides sustainable, cutting-edge technology and innovative new products and tech support services for the diamond industry, from exploration to diamond recovery and rough diamond sorting to polished diamond screening and verification. Optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and fluorescence and phosphorescence imaging techniques were used to analyse the “Beating Heart” further.

v2Fluorescence image acquired with De Beers Group Ignite DiamondView™

Samantha Sibley, Technical Educator at De Beers Group Ignite, explains: “I have certainly never seen anything like the ‘Beating Heart’ during my last 30 years in the diamond sector. Using the expertise of De Beers Group, we can shed light onto the formation and structure of this natural specimen and share these insights with a wider community of diamond professionals.”

Preliminary findings indicate that the formation of the cavity within the diamond can be attributed to the preferential erosion of an intermediate layer comprised of poor-quality, fibrous diamond. The original “core” of the diamond would have consisted of good-quality diamond growth. However, a subsequent growth layer likely resulted in a poorer quality, fibrous structure, followed by an additional “outer coating” of gem-quality crystal. The poor-quality layer was etched away during the diamond’s journey from its formation to the Earth’s surface, leaving behind only the superior-quality material – the outer diamond and the core. As a result of this process, the diamond can move freely within an internal space.

Etch features are visible on both the smaller diamond and the inner cavity of the host as shown in this scanning electron microscope (SEM) image. Image by Ivan Nikiforov

Jamie Clark, Head of Global Operations at De Beers Institute of Diamonds, adds: “The ‘Beating Heart’ is a remarkable example of what can happen on the natural diamond journey from formation to discovery. We thank VD Global for recognising this diamond’s potential and acknowledging its educational and scientific potential. A find like this demonstrates why natural diamond formation and origin is such a fascinating area of study and why it is important to strive for advancements in testing and analysis that can contribute to our knowledge of natural diamond growth.”

The De Beers Institute of Diamond (IoD) is dedicated to enhancing and reinforcing consumer trust within the diamond industry by offering top-notch diamond grading and testing services. These services encompass the verification of melee, parcel, and set diamonds. The IoD operates across three campuses in Maidenhead, UK; Antwerp, Belgium; and Surat, India. It is the sole international laboratory that only grades natural, untreated diamonds.

The “Beating Heart” diamond has now been registered on the Tracr blockchain platform, which serves as an immutable record, documenting the provenance and production journey of the diamond, ensuring transparency and traceability.

SOURCES: Images: Supplied
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