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Diamond is one of the two best known forms (or allotropes) of carbon, whose hardness and high dispersion of light make it useful for industrial applications and jewelry (the other equally well known allotrope is graphite). Diamonds are specifically renowned as a mineral with superlative physical qualities - they make excellent abrasives because they can only be scratched by other diamonds, which also means they hold a polish extremely well and retain luster. About 130 million carats (26,000 kg) are mined annually, with a total value of nearly USD $9 billion.

The carat weight measures the mass of a diamond. One carat is defined as exactly 200 milligrams (about 0.007 ounce). The point unit—equal to one one-hundredth of a carat (0.01 carat, or 2 mg)—is commonly used for diamonds of less than one carat. All else being equal, the value of a diamond increases exponentially in relation to carat weight, since larger diamonds are both rarer and more desirable for use as gemstones.

Most natural diamonds originate from central and southern Africa, although significant sources of the mineral have been discovered in Canada, Russian Federation, Brazil and Australia.

From: a.o.