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Is it scientifically correct to call Diamond an element? Carbon has a wide range of allotropes, so would it be correct to actually just call graphite, diamond etc an element. For that matter, could we call any molecule containing only one type of atom, an element?

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    $\begingroup$ Phosphor has (among others) an allotrope called "red phosphor" and one called "white phosphor". Does that anwer your question? $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Sep 24, 2018 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Can we have that idiotic IUPAC definition goldbook.iupac.org/html/C/C01022.html that probably raised this question again? It was cited in an answer that has been deleted. They really should stick to defining nomenclature and not write dictionaries. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Sep 24, 2018 at 19:49

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It might be scientifically correct but it is linguistically misleading

The sentence "diamond is an element" can be seen to be misleading when compared to the sentence "diamond is an allotrope of the element carbon". Or even "diamond consists of the element carbon".

The issue is that clear language should distinguish between the form and the composition of an element with more than one allotrope. Saying "diamond is an element" confuses the fact that diamond is made from carbon with the fact that it is made from an infinite tetrahedral array of carbon atoms. It also subtly excludes the fact that there are other allotropes.

For clarity in language a specific form of an element (an allotrope) should not be referred to as "an element" but should be referred to as one form of that element. As in "diamond is one form of the element carbon, buckminsterfullerene is another form."

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    $\begingroup$ Reminds me of xkcd.com/169 ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Sep 24, 2018 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Then what is the point giving that definition of "element"? I mean it would be better to say periodic table of atoms than elements. $\endgroup$
    – ado sar
    Sep 12, 2020 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @adosar The periodic table provides more than just a list of atoms. It also tells us the normal form in which those elements appear. But there can be several common forms. The definition of element is that there is only one type of atom. But this is incomplete as we also need to know the typical forms (diamond, graphite, buckyballs...). The periodic table gives both. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Dec 4, 2020 at 13:28
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Technically Yes, but Scientifically No.

Diamond is made of pure Carbon, so yes. However, it is not on the periodic table nor is it classified as an element by most scientists, so on that case, no. It really depends what you think.

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The IUPAC definition of element is as follows:

A pure chemical substance composed of atoms with the same number of protons in the atomic nucleus. IUPAC Goldbook definition of element

This seems to allow diamond to be called an element. But it's not a good idea, scientifically or linguistically, since it doesn't make sense.

Carbon is an element. Diamond is a form that the element carbon can take.

Let me give you a car analogy: Toyota is a brand of car. The Camry is one example of a type of Toyota car. I.e., it is one form a Toyota can take. That does not make "Camry" a brand of car, nor would it make sense to call a Camry a car brand.

In summary, referring to diamond as an element, rather than a form an element can take, is like referring to Camry as a car brand, rather than as one of the brand's models.

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Diamond is a form of pure carbon (which is an element). Logic may lead you to believe that diamond is, therefore, an element. However, this is a bit circular because if you say that diamond is an element, then every allotrope of every element also falls under the same consideration.

Also, in order for diamond to be a unique element, the molecules that make it up should have a different number of protons than any other element on the periodic table. Since a diamond is made of carbon, it is really just another form of carbon.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Chemistry.se! I would say this does not answer the question, but it only restates it. I agree the reasoning is circular, but according to some definitions available, a more rigorous answer would be preferable. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ I felt that I had provided that with my second paragraph where I touched on proton counts, but I can try and make my answer more detailed. $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2019 at 17:11
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No. Diamond is not an element.

It is a name for a gemstone, a particular occurence of an allotropic form of carbon that may or may not contain other elements in addition to carbon.

And while "pure" diamond is an allotropic form of the element carbon, diamonds that are actually pure carbon are usually synthetically made, as most naturally occuring diamonds have impurities/inclusions in the matrix.

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