|Diamond in matrix. USGS photo.|
And guess what? China is the leading supplier of such diamonds to the US, and the US, as expected, is among the world’s greatest consumers of industrial diamonds. The US produces only about 127 million carats of industrial diamond, which sounds like a lot, but not in comparison to that 4-billion-carat gorilla, China. The US imports more than 500 million carats, 63% from China. The few natural industrial diamonds imported come from Africa, largely Botswana, but 93% of US industrial diamonds are synthetic.
Where do they go? Tiny dies for creating thin, light-bulb-filament wires, drill bits that find oil and gas, and computer chips all use industrial diamonds. But the vast majority go to a mundane use: stone and concrete cutting, mostly in the road-building and repair industry.
So as you motor down the highway, think about those Chinese synthetic diamonds. They helped find the oil to make the gasoline in your tank, and they help make the road beds upon which you drive.
Photo: Diamond in matrix. From USGS.