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27.5.11

Passion & Purity - Diamonds from Coal

I found an interesting article of how coal turns into a diamond on buzzle.com; I hope you find it as interesting as I did. I will make a clear point at the end, it is truly fascinating. Thanks to Sonia Nair for contributing to this chapter.

“It is difficult to believe that any relation exists between the dark brownish-black lumps of coal and shimmering diamonds. The common element (*1) between the two is that they both are made up of carbon. The element carbon exists in the earth in three different forms. One is the amorphous form (*2), which lacks the crystal structure. Another form of carbon, termed as graphite (*2), has hexagonal crystals. Diamonds are the third form of carbon and these glittering gemstones (*2) sport cubic crystals.

Relation between Coal and Diamonds

Coal, which is an amorphous form of carbon, is not made of pure carbon. It is made up of complicated organic molecules of decomposed plant and animal material (*3), which have been compressed for millions of years in the earth's crust. Coal is subjected to various geological processes, which change its chemical composition and transforms it (*4) into its nearly purest form called graphite. This process requires suitable conditions (*5) and millions of years (*6) to take place. Diamonds are formed deep inside the earth, where the temperatures and pressures are very high (*7). They are transported to the surface of the earth by the molten magma.
If both diamonds and graphite are made up of carbon, then why do they look different? (*8) The answer is that the arrangement of carbon atoms in graphite and diamonds differ, giving them entirely different looks. While carbon atoms are arranged in a hexagonal manner in graphite, in diamonds, each carbon atom is linked to four others in a tetrahedral manner.
Hence, graphite is like sheets of carbon atoms, stacked one over the other and diamonds have a pyramid-like structure. The flat sheets of the graphite can absorb lights of different wavelengths and hence are opaque and black. The pyramid-like structure, found in diamonds, lack this ability and are transparent and sparkling.

How does Coal Become a Diamond?

The conversion of coal into diamond is almost impossible (*9). Even though there are carbon atoms in coal, the amount of impurities are so high, that it takes millions and millions of years for the coal to transform to its nearly purest form - graphite. The conversion of graphite to diamonds takes some more millions of years. This transformation cannot take place in the earth's crust, as diamonds are formed deep inside the earth (*10). The procedure takes place about 100 miles below the earth's surface, where coal is subjected to various geological processes. It is believed that coal is exposed to a temperature above 2,000° F, and a pressure almost 50 times higher than that of the earth's surface. Any variation in these factors may affect the formation of diamonds. A dip in the pressure or a hike in the temperature may result in the dissolution of the diamond or a partially-formed one. 

Even when diamonds are formed through such a process, it takes another 2000 to 3000 years for them to get carried to the earth's surface. Molten magma brings them up and cools them off to form rocks in the form of veins, which are known as kimberlite. Hence, kimberlite veins are considered as preferable sites for mining diamonds. It is also possible that the diamonds are further transported from the kimberlite sites to a distant area. This is possible when the kimberlite erodes with time and the diamonds in it are carried away with the resultant sediments to distant places. However, rough diamonds are mined from the kimberlite sites and nearby areas and are polished to bring out the sparkle in them.

How coal becomes a diamond has raised quite a few doubts over the years. People find it difficult to believe something as ugly as coal can be transformed into something as beautiful as diamonds (*11). However, even though this is possible, one has to understand that it is not an easy process. It takes millions and millions of years for Mother Nature to produce one diamond. Approximately 100 tons of mud needs to be mined to produce one carat. So, how do you turn coal into a diamond? It is impossible, and you cannot do it yourself, it is a natural process, which takes millions of years (*12).”

I love this article and became so excited when I read it! It’s not that I am into coal or diamonds or any form of science. It is because it works as a perfect metaphor for what God has done in my life. 

Can you believe that diamonds come from coal? He takes the filthy, messy, black sin that we give to Him and he processes it into precious diamonds. He takes our rubbish and makes priceless gems out of it. He takes what the world writes off and makes us into His most prized possessions. Let’s take a look at all the words I highlighted in this article to draw a comparison of how God makes diamonds out of us. 

*1 The Common Element

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image

The common element between coal and diamonds is that they both are made up of carbon. In the same way the common element between us as “coal” and “diamonds” is that in both stages we are made up of God (God is spirit). Does that make sense? We were made in God’s image. When we are living in sin and messing about with our life, ignoring God, we are still spiritual beings. Then when we become diamonds, we are still spiritual beings. That is the common element, but the process is what makes us either stay coal or forges us into beautiful diamonds.

So let’s take a look at the process...  

*2 Three Different Forms

Ephesians 2:1
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins

Amorphous form

We all start off dead in trespasses and sins. Our life has no shape or form, it is lifeless and amorphous. This is our initial form. We are all born this way. We are born sinful and remain in this state until we choose to do something about it. Not one of us on this planet started out any different. We were all born in a state of being separated from God by sin.

As graphite

There comes a very special day, the day of our rebirth, the day we come alive again! We are all given this opportunity too. Even though we are all born sinful, we are equally all given a choice as to whether or not we stay this way. This is when we gain structure in our life. A characteristic of graphite is that its cleavage is perfect in one direction. I don’t want to get too technical here, but cleavage has nothing to do with breasts here, in my own words it is a geological term for the cracks that allow the graphite to split apart. Basically my point here is that when we come to Jesus, all our cracks point in one direction – to Him. But this isn’t the final stage, when we get born again we have aligned ourselves to His will but we are still not yet diamonds.

Glittering Gemstones

Diamond making is the process that occurs after we have surrendered our life to Jesus. This is the part that takes time and pressure. The final stage though, is a glittering gemstone – a diamond. We all have the choice to become diamonds or stay as graphite.


*3 Decomposed Material

Romans 6:2
...How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

In order for the diamond making process to begin we need to have molecules of decomposed material. That is easy; this is the dead stuff in our life that is causing us to rot, namely sin. We all have that, which means we all have the potential to become diamonds. Sorry to all you goody-two-shoes out there, without it you cannot be a diamond ha ha.
But seriously, there is not one of us alive today that doesn’t have sin in our life which is rotting away our insides. It is with this sin that God transforms us into a beautiful diamond. Only if we allow Him to, He gives us free will every step of the way and will never force us to be anything that we don’t want to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to be ALL that I can be!

*4 Change and Transformation

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

With God our sin is merely a tool for Him to bring about change and transformation. As we allow Him into our life and keep our eyes focused on Him, He transforms us.
When God changes us it is permanent, there is no going back. Have you ever heard of a diamond reverting to coal? That’s because it can’t happen. It is simply not possible. When you are a diamond, truly a diamond, you won’t go back to being coal. I was a Christian and I went back to my worldly ways several times. That is because I was still graphite; the process hadn’t been completed in my life.

*5 Suitable Conditions

James 4:6
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

In the past I really tried hard to be a good Christian girl. Despite my best efforts, I failed, repeatedly. I failed because they were my efforts. The conditions weren’t suitable for diamond making because I would have become proud of my achievements.
It’s so simple, He does it all for us. We couldn’t do it if we tried, all we have to do is admit that we were wrong, say sorry about what we did wrong and allow Him to start the diamond making process in us. If we are proud and won’t say sorry or that we were wrong, He will resist us. No diamond can be formed without there being suitable conditions. Humility is a very necessary condition for God to be able to transform us into beautiful diamonds. 

The story continues with some amazing similarities between the God process in our life and the diamond making process, find out more by reading the rest of this chapter in Passion & Purity!  More info on the book here or purchase it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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