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The Matryoshka Diamond

In october 2019, Russian raw diamond mining giant ALROSA has mined an unusual diamond with another diamond moving freely inside in the republic of Yakutia, the stone resembles a traditional Russian Matryoshka doll.

“According to the scientists, the diamond may be over 800 million years old,” the company said.

“Despite its complex structure, it weighs only 0.62 carats (0.124 grams) and has maximum dimensions of 4.8 x 4.9 x 2.8 mm… this is the first such diamond in the history of global diamond mining.”

The internal diamond is inside a closed cavity where it can move freely. That void in the bigger diamond has a volume of just 6 cubic mm and the tiny “nested” crystal has an estimated weight of just .02 carats and dimensions of 1.9×2.1×0.6 mm.

The below x-ray view shows a cross-section of the diamond within a diamond:

Three month later, a GIA’s team, which examined the stone at its New York lab, found that over a period of millions or billions of years, approximately 0.11 carats of diamond dissolved through two small channels that extended from the surface of the diamond to its inner cavity. The remaining diamond material created a 0.03-carat crystal that is entirely detached and moves freely within its outer diamond shell, the institute said last week.

“We have never seen anything like this,” said Tom Moses, GIA’s executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer. “This is a truly unusual diamond, not only for the fact that there is a small diamond crystal inside, and entirely detached from the host crystal, but also for the mystery of how this diamond-in-a-diamond formed.”

The inner and outer diamonds had nearly identical “trace elements” — substances found in small quantities within the stone. That confirmed they were initially one solid diamond without the cavity, the GIA explained. The original diamond had been naturally irradiated, based on the clear-green color of the inner stone and etchings on its surface that resembled Christmas trees. Those patterns were caused by fluid containing radioactive elements that seeped through shallow fractures along the diamond’s edges, the GIA noted.

“Examining this nesting-doll diamond was a remarkable opportunity,” Moses said. “The opportunity to examine this special diamond-within-a-diamond added to our understanding of how diamonds form.”

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