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The Chromatic Orb spell (PHB, p. 221) has a material component of "a diamond worth at least 50 gp".

Meanwhile, the description of the Arcane Focus item says (emphasis mine):

An arcane focus is a special item — an orb, a crystal, a rod, a specially constructed staff, a wand like length of wood, or some similar item — designed to channel the power of arcane spells. A sorcerer, warlock, or wizard can use such an item as a spellcasting focus, as described in chapter 10.

As a diamond is a crystal, can the 50 gp diamond used as a component for Chromatic Orb also be used as an Arcane Focus for other spells?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should not edit your question in response to an answer to ask another question. You should comment on the answers to ask for clarification or ask a separate question, if you have a new problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 8:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've got a similar question. Druids can use mistletoe as an arcane focus. And there is a spell that requires a sprig of mistletoe(not consumed). Can you use the mistletoe as a material component and still have it retain its arcane focus capabilities? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ BTW, I'm not asking this question as a separate question for fear mine will be labeled as a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 I think you're thinking about Goodberry. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Commented Jan 12 at 16:36

4 Answers 4

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Not by RAW

Something can be used as a spellcasting focus if it is designated like that.

For example arcane foci from the equipment section that you cited. Other examples include the bard who can use a musical instrument as focus or the magic item ruby of the war mage.

Nowhere does it say, that any diamond can be used as focus or that it is

designed to channel the power of arcane spells

however, a diamond is still a crystal, so it fits with the examples of things that can be designed that way and it is much more expensive than those, so I see no reason, either in flavor or in balance why a GM should not allow this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since a diamond is a crystal, I'm having a hard time seeing why the RAW answer is "No". It seems like RAW is pretty explicit about this being okay. If a crystal for a spell focus can't be a diamond, what kind of crystal is it supposed to be? Amethyst? Citrine? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @indigochild The problem I'm pointing out is not about diamond versus amethyst. It is the fact that random diamonds are not designated as spell foci. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 17:57
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The diamond used in Chromatic Orb and a crystal used as an arcane focus are allowed, by RAW, to be the same thing. "Crystal" is a broad category of objects, which includes diamond. Supposing that the diamond/crystal is worth at least 50gp, it is allowed to be both.

RAW - Yes, with some limitations.

The relavent rules are cited in the question, so I won't repeat them here.

Chromatic Orb requires a diamond worth at least 50 gp. So any diamond worth at least 50 gp will work as a spell component.

A crystal "designed for the purpose of arcane spells" can be an arcane focus.

These two things are not discrete: if you have a diamond worth at least 50 gp that has been specifically designed for this purpose, then it usable both as an arcane focus and the material component for Chromatic Orb.

Notably, this doesn't mean that any crystal worth 50 gp may be an arcane focus. It must be designed for that use.

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No

An arcane focus is a special item ... designed to channel the power of arcane spells.

A diamond is just a diamond.

Of course, you can make an arcane focus from a diamond but then it’s an arcane focus, not a diamond. In the same way that a car is not a $20,000 piece of steel.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why can't a diamond be designed to channel the power of arcane spells? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @indigochild: Because then it would be called "a Spell Focus Crystal", and not "a Diamond" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 15:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think your edit makes the opposite argument. A car is a $20,000 piece of steel. It is also a car. These are not discrete things. Cars have to be made of something. If it wasn't a $20,000 piece of steel, what is it? A $20,000 piece of some other material! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that some arbitrary diamond is not an arcane focus However, If someone created an arcane focus from a diamond, could they then use it as the M component of the spell? Why does it stop counting as a "diamond" for game purposes? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 18:15
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In D&D, “diamond” and “crystal” are probably not the same thing

As per the description in the Player’s Handbook, an arcane focus is:

a special item ... designed to channel the power of arcane spells.

It costs between 5 and 20 gold pieces, with a crystal type costing 10gp. This indicates that a crystal of suitable size and properties, worked by someone with the appropriate skills into a form that can channel magic, is worth that much. So the materials from which it’s made can’t be that expensive.

So far, so good. But what does “crystal” mean in this context? In a modern real world sense, the term has a scientific meaning: a pure substance whose molecules are arranged in a geometric pattern. That absolutely does include everything from quartz to diamonds and rubies, but also sugar and salt.

In common usage, though, you wouldn’t call a diamond or other gemstone a “crystal”. In fact “a crystal” is more commonly understood to be something less valuable: quartz, amethyst, or even - as per the other modern English dictionary definition - “highly transparent glass with a high refractive index”, as used in chandeliers, fancy glassware and costume jewellery.

The spell doesn’t require “a crystal”, but a diamond worth - on its own - 50gp. That might be a pretty small diamond (though that’s open to interpretation), and it might not even be cut or polished. It’s a material substance required by the spell, though as it is not consumed by the spell, it could be described as channeling the energy of the magic rather than as an ingredient - spells often leave the details of what that looks like up to the player.

It’s up to your DM, but a diamond arcane focus should probably cost more than 50gp

So where am I going with all this? I think it’s reasonable to say yes, you can have a diamond crystal focus usable for this spell - but you’d need to start with a diamond worth at least 50gp and then pay more for someone with the right skills to turn it into an arcane focus. The simplest solution would be to buy one and have it cost 60gp, combining the costs involved, but a DM might also consider this a great opportunity for a side quest - finding a diamond with “the right properties”, or an artisan with the right skills etc.

But equally, given we’re talking about what words mean in D&D and not the real world, it would be reasonable to think that when folks in the Forgotten Realms or other “magical medieval Europe” style settings say “crystal” they mean a lump of quartz or polished glass - certainly, given the cost of a crystal arcane focus, it doesn’t seem they mean a precious gemstone. Even in real life no-one wants a “crystal wedding ring”, even if that’s scientifically accurate. And in various treasure tables and other contexts in the game rules, you find the terms “diamond”, “gemstone” and “crystal” used separately - not interchangeably - indicating they are meant to be different things.

So a DM would also be within their rights to say that for D&D worlds, “crystal” and “diamond” are not the same thing. They would also be justified in allowing this, but with a caveat that such a specialised bit of equipment would cost significantly more than 60gp - after all, working diamond is much more difficult than working glass or quartz.

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