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Diamond Information

Origin of the diamond

From carbon to diamond.

The word diamond has its origin in the Greek word adamas – meaning unconquerable.
Diamond is the hardest material in the world and it consists of the most common building blocks in the world – carbon. Atoms of carbon form stable bonds in a three-dimensional crystalline structure. Crystallization is the process which occurs in extreme conditions when the pressures is up to exceed 70, 000 kg/cm3 and the temperatures are higher than over 13 000 C.
These conditions are only found in the depths of more than 100 – 200 kilometers under the Earth’s surface.
Diamond is able to travel through the earth’s crust to the surface by being when pushed up by with volcanic rock. There are two types of this rock: lamproit and kimberlite. Both types have nearly the same composition.
The primary places where the diamonds are found are deposits of a magmatic origin, so-called primary deposits where diamonds are scattered as accessory minerals in very dark rocks in the upper earth mantel. These rocks are called kimberlite (named after Kimberley, town in South Africa).



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Primary sources

Kimberlite mining is extracting from the parent rock, along with diamonds directly from the kimberlite pipe. Surveying pipes of extinct volcanoes is performed either by surface mining or by digging underground tunnels. In both cases kimberlite (the ore containing diamonds) which is mined by blasting, breaking and digging is transported via belt conveyers or on trucks to the processing plant where it is grinded and rinsed and the diamonds extracted. The result of this way of mining is the occurrence of new geological formations such as “Big Hole”, a huge hole partly filled with water near Kimberley in South Africa. Most part of diamonds is mined in this way although it is financially very demanding.

Diamond processing

The price of a diamond has been directly proportional to its weight for hundreds of years. Jewellery was set only with rough diamonds. It was the only way because nobody was able to cut and work a diamond. It changed in the 14th and 15th century. The Belgian, Lodewijk van Bercken discovered the process of cutting one diamond by using another. Nowadays a common rule is that a diamond loses approximately half of its rough weight before it is set into jewellery.

A masterpiece of skill

A rough diamond looks like an uninteresting piece of glass. Only after processing and grinding the facets will it unfurl its glory and glitter. A thorough study of the rough stone is necessary to produce the biggest possible diamond with the least amount of impurities. This job requires great experience and knowledge of diamond crystallography and of the possible impurities that may be in diamonds. What final shape will the stone have?

Diamonds mining
Rare occurrence
Prospectors carefully scrutinize extinct volcanoes, river beds and sandy coastal areas. To get one carat (0.2 gram) of diamonds it is necessary to mine 250 tons of rock, sand or soil in average. For this reason diamonds are so precious.

How does a diamond look like?

The most common cut is the round brilliant. A typical round brilliant has 57 facets: table (big central facet), 32 facets on the crown (the top part of a brilliant cut) and 24 facets on the pavilion (the lower part ending in a tip). It loses more than half of its original weight through cutting.

Marking

First, the specialist analyzes the rough diamond and decides how the diamond will be processed. Then the diamond is marked, cut and polished. Each diamond is unique and the whole procedure is specific for every particular stone. The yield depends above all on the shape and quality of the rough stone.



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Cleaving

Cleaving is a method of splitting the stone in two or more parts with a single hit along the cleavable lines –that is to say only in a certain direction. This technique was used in India hundreds of years ago and it required great skill. Cleaving is always done parallel in the direction of the grain of the crystal. The stone is fastened in a wooden holder and opposite it another holder clamps a second sharp diamond to make a slit into the stone. It is then split after hitting a tool of steel with a hammer

Diamond deposits

IndiaIndia and Borneo were the only diamond producers until the 18th century. Some big and famous diamonds (Koh-i-Noor, The Great Mogul Diamond, Orloff or The Hope) come from these countries. Today’s importance of India’s deposits is negligible.

Australia

Australia is one of the biggest producers of diamonds in the world. Currently mining takes place in the primary deposit Argyle with a diamond pipe called AK1, which is located in a Kimberley region in Western Australia (not to be confused with Kimberley in South Africa) and is the most are of big interest and sold individually in special productive mine in the world according to available information. In 1998 the mine reached its maximum production –over 43 million carats of diamonds were mined in a single year. Its complete extraction is estimated for the year 2018. The diamond concentration in Australian lamproites is many times higher than the average concentration of kimberlite deposits worldwide. The AK1 mine contains up to 7 ct of diamond per 1 ton. For the most part these are cheap jewellery stones. However, unique pink diamonds which auctions can be found in this deposit.

Botswana

A country neighbouring South Africa, it owns rich deposits of diamonds of extraordinary quality. Most of the surface of Botswana is covered in desert sand. Due to the discovery of some diamonds in river sediments, a geological exploration was launched which led to the discovery of the first kimberlite pipe, the Orapa pipe (in 1967) – till today the third most productive mine - and after that in 1973 the Jwaneng pipe and in 1977 the Letlhakane pipe, which has already been mined out. It was necessary to bring water to the Jwaneng mine by pipe from a source 50 km away. A power plant was built for supplying the diamond mine as well as a town for workers. The town offers all necessary services for the convenience of the workers at the highest possible standard in the middle of the inhospitable desert. The mine produces approximately a quarter of the world’s total jewellery diamonds and is currently the second most productive mine. Only a figure less than one per cent of mined stones are not suitable for jewellery purposes. All Botswana‘s mines are operated by Debswana Diamond Company Ltd. It is a joint venture of the De Beers company and the government of Botswana, which hold an equal share in the company.

Russia

Russian deposits are very rich as well and the biggest of them were found between 1954 and 1959. Since that time Russian mines have produced over 150 million carats of diamonds, a fifth of which is suitable for jewellery and investments. Diamondiferous pipes are located in the Yakutsk area in Siberia. Only a few hundred of the local kimberlite pipes contain diamonds. The most known deposits are Mir and Udačnyj – the fourth most productive worldwide with the Jubilejnyj mine ranking eighth. Gemstones are bigger in diameter than common in other deposits worldwide and their quality is usually very high. About 37 per cent of diamonds are suitable for jewellery. Mining takes place under severe conditions with temperatures that drop at places down to several tens of degrees below freezing point and the soil is frozen down to a depth of 300 metres, which also increases the costs of mining dramatically. Diamonds are mined by the company ALROSA with Russia as the major share holder.




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South Africa

The most famous mines can be found in South Africa where, at the end of the 19th century a diamond rush also burst out. The story of diamonds started in South Africa in 1866 when the farmer, Schalk van Niekerk noticed a little sparkling stone in the hands of a fifteen year old boy from the neighbourhood. The stone was called Eureka and nowadays it is shown at the Museum in Kimberly and it weighs more than 21 carats. In 1869 another discovery came -a beautiful diamond weighing 83.5 carats called The Star of South Africa. It was this particular stone that started the diamond rush. During the next few years a few diamondiferous kimberlites were discovered - Jagersfontein in August 1870, Dutoitspan in September 1870, Bultfontein at the beginning of the year 1871, De Beers in spring of 1871, Kimberley in July 1871, Wesselton in September 1890, Premier in 1896 and one of the latest - Finsch in 1965. At present the most productive mine in SA is called Finsch – the tenth most productive mine in the world. Some deposits were definitively closed (Jagersfontein, Kimberley) and some others are still in operation (e.g. Dutoitspan). The productivity of kimberlites in South Africa is about 1 ct per 1 ton. Many diamonds are of very high quality. The biggest rough diamond found so far is the Cullinan which weighed unprocessed over 3.000 ct.

Canada

The youngest big deposits of diamonds are the Diavik mine (the 6th most productive worldwide, being prepared for deep mining) and the Ekati mine, both located in the north of Canada. In 1985 two geologists, Chuck Fipke and Stewan Blusson, found a heavy material indicating the presence of diamondiferous kimberlite in the north Canadian area of Lac de Gras, an area which is frozen for most of the year. A subsequent survey provided evidence of a kimberlite pipe containing diamonds of very good jewellery quality. It was followed by the construction of a mine and mining started in 1999. The majority owner, the company BHP Diamonds Inc. sells only high quality gemstones that are cut directly in Canada. Each diamond from Ekati must weigh at least 0.3 ct and comes with 3 certificates: a certificate of authenticity and quality by the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGS), The Canadian NWT government certificate confirming Canadian origin of the stone, and finally a company certificate guaranteeing the gemstone comes from the Ekati mine. The life span of this mine is estimated at 25 years i.e. till 2023. It is interesting that the mine is accessible by land only during winter when the terrain is frozen.



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Angola

The ninth most productive mine is Catoca in Angola. It was found only recently in 1997 and its production increases permanently. In 2007, 6,1 million carats were extracted yearly.

Namibia

The uninhabitable coast of Namibia was called “Skeleton coast” by sailors for hundreds of years. Nobody knew for a long time that a high concentration of quality diamonds was hidden right under its sand. Mining in this area is very difficult. First it is necessary to remove several metres of sediment that do not contain diamonds. These sediments are used for building up to 20 metres high onshore walls. The mining is done under very high security measures. No equipment (excavators, trucks, and processing machinery.) that enter the diamond area can ever leave since a complete inspection of the machinery or potential loss of diamonds would be more expensive than the price of the machinery left inside. Also the borders of the diamond area are guarded very well in both directions, towards the inland and the ocean. The fact that the diamonds settled in coast sediments and travelled an extremely long way was obvious from the way they were sorted. Only stones of the highest quality were transported and the rest was destroyed during the hundreds of kilometres of rehashing with other components of sediment. As a result 95 per cent of mined stones are of jewellery quality.

Other world deposits

Diamonds can be found in other countries in Africa: Lesotho, Zaire, Tanzania, Central African Republic, and further north in equatorial Africa: the Republic of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Worldwide mining of raw diamonds exceeds 100 million carats yearly. Approximately 80 per cent of it is industrial diamonds and about 20 per cent jewellery stones. The company De Beers mines a total of about 30 million carats in 20 deposits in southern Africa, which is about 40 per cent of the world´s production value.

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Why Invest in Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?

Diamonds are a very good and profitable investment instrument, because of the following reasons:
Diamonds are a safe investment. Each diamond is certified by the independent worldwide IGI, HRD or GIA Gemological Laboratory.
Permanent value. The price of diamonds is stable, growing on a long term basis and not subject to any inflation.
Unregistered investment. A diamond is not registered by any authorities, fully anonymous property.
Concentrated wealth. There is a large value in a small volume of diamond, e.g. 1 kg of gold is equivalent to approximately 0.5 grams of a quality diamond.
Easy mobility. You can easily and safely transfer the diamond from place to place anywhere around the world.
Quick liquidity. You buy the diamond on one side of the world and sell it again on the other side.
Indestructibility. A diamond cannot be destroyed by a domestic fire, water, acid…It is almost indestructible.
Emotion and Beauty. Diamonds and jewelry are pieces of art. They are beautiful. They bring emotion. The make your heart to sing and eyes to celebrate.