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The World of Diamonds

Updated on March 18, 2013

The World of Diamonds

A glimpse into the mystery, the romance, the treachery and the fortunes made from the world of diamonds. The hardest and most sought-after of gemstones, diamonds have spawned a global industry based on the beauty of diamonds and the brilliant marketing of De Beers.

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Diamonds

The Properties of Diamonds

Chemical Composition:

Carbon

Crystal Structure:

Cubic

Locality:

South Africa, Russia, Australia, Canada, Brazil, India, Botswana, Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo, Namibia, India, USA

Colour:

Colourless, pink, blue, green, red, orange, yellow, brown, black, violet

Mohs Hardness:

10

Geological Occurrence:

Kimberlite Pipes, Lamproites and alluvial deposits

Highest price paid for a diamond:

In 1995, a sheik from Saudi Arabia paid $16,548,750 for a pear-shaped, flawless, 100.1-carat "D" diamond from Sotheby's.

Largest Polished Diamond:

The largest polished diamond is the Golden Jubilee diamond. Weighing 545 carats, the yellow diamond was presented to Thailand's King Bhumibal Adulyadej in 1996, to commemorate his 50 years of leadership. The diamond was mounted on a royal scepter and used as part of Thailand's Crown Jewels.

Largest Rough Diamond:

The largest diamond rough ever found was the Cullinan from the Premier mine in South Africa. It weighed 3106.75 carats

Lucara Finds 239 Carat diamond in Botswana

Lucara Diamonds has reported finding an exceptional 239 carat diamond from its Karowe Mine in Botswana, Africa. They also reported finding 2 other large gems - one at 124 carats and another weighing71.1 carats. Lucara is a relatively new diamond miner and has just started producing from their African deposit within the last couple of years. The Company's two key assets are the Karowe Mine in Botswana and the Mothae Project in Lesotho. The 100% owned Karowe Mine is in production. The 75% owned Mothae Project has completed its trial mining program.

The History of Diamonds - Diamonds in India

One and twenty kilometres beneath the surface of the earth, diamonds are born. Under incredible pressure and intense heat, pure carbon crystallizes to form the hardest and most sought-after of all gemstones. Diamonds are highly coveted for many reasons - they are durable, they are beautiful and they are very hard to find. Globally over the last decade, diamond exploration companies have spent billions of dollars looking for diamonds. They have made no significant discoveries. This adamantine gemstone has also been associated with wealth, power and royalty for centuries. Many people scratch their heads about the value of diamonds - although they have many extremely useful industrial properties, at the extreme a very fine red diamond is worth more than $1.4 billion per ounce! Diamonds are so valuable because they possess the three qualities a gemstone must have and a couple that are unique. Those three qualities they share with all gems are beauty, durability and rarity. The two that make diamonds unique are that diamond is the hardest material known and secondly, they have been subject to the greatest marketing campaign of all time - De Beers "A Diamond is Forever" campaign.

For twelve centuries, the diamonds that made their way to Europe were primarily from India. In 1631 Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the French gem merchant and adventurer, made his first of six trips to the Orient and was the first European to see and describe the India diamond mines near the diaoomnd trading centre of Golconda. He visited the Raolconda and Kollur mines oalong the Kistna river in the 1660's. This was an alluvial operation, and Tavernier found 60,000 men, women and children under the lash, digging the gravel and washing it in baskets in the river. The diamonds were found in the gravel and then went to gem merchants in Golconda. From there they found their way into the palaces of royalty and nobility in India, Persia and Europe

Sotheby's Sells Rare Pink Diamond

Pink Diamond Fetches World Record Price - Sells for $46 Million

British jeweller and gem dealer Laurence Graff just paid a world record price for a 24 carat pink diamond at a Sotheby's auction this week.

Huge Pear Shaped Diamond up for Sale

Sotheby's talks about diamonds

Patty Wong, Chairman of Sotheby's Diamonds Shows a 100 carat+ D flawless diamond. Can I get one in pink?

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Fabulous Designer Cabochons

Rare and Precious.com

For those of you who are fans of unique, beautiful and fabulous gemstones you must check out http://www.rareandprecious.com You will find a continually changing and growing collection of designer cabochons including:

FIne Jaspers - Deschutes, Biggs, Blue Biggs, Wildhorse, Owyhee, Noreena, Mookaite and more

Fine Agates and Chalcedony- Laguna, Crazy lace, Montana, Blue Chalcedony, Carnelian, Gem Silica, Chrysoprase and more

Fossil Cabochons - DInoasaur Bone, Stingray Coral, Petrified Wood

More- Black Jade, Drusy Quartz, Spectrolite, Chrysocolla, Antique Glass, Koroit Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Moonstone, Amazonite and more...

The Last Empire: De Beers, Diamonds and the World - Stefan Kanfer

A fascinating history of De Beers and the global empire it spawned. A must read for anyone interested in the world of diamonds.

507 Carat Diamond Found In South Africa - Cullinan Mines

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG - Petra Diamonds Ltd. says a diamond the size of a chicken egg has been found at South Africa's Cullinan mine.

The diamond may be among the world's top 20 high-quality gems. It was discovered Thursday at the mine northeast of Pretoria, South Africa.

Johan Dippenaar, the company's chief executive said in a statement Tuesday that the 507.55-carat gem was of "exceptional color and clarity."

The Cullinan is also where the world's largest ever diamond was found - the Cullinan, which was over 3,000 carats!

Harry Winston - Jeweler to the Stars

A video about Harry Winstons history with Hollywood and the Oscar's ceremony.

The Pink Diamonds of Argyle

A quick video about the beautiful pink diamonds from Australia.

Damien Hirst $100 million diamond Skull

A bit over the top but compelling publicity.

New Diamond Discovery on Baffin Island

Hints at Great Potential

Canadian diamond exploration company, Peregrine Diamonds has discovered a new diamond field on Baffin Island in Canada's remote north-eastern Arctic. Initial indications are very encouraging and include the kimberlite deposit, CH6 which looks to be very significant. Mr. Eric Friedland, CEO of Peregrine stated "We believe these microdiamond counts from CH-6 are some of the best results in the history of Canadian diamond exploration and a testament to the outstanding potential of Chidliak."

Peregrine discovered 13 kimberlites on their Chidlaik property in only 2 months of exploration this summer. Their original discovery - CH1, was found in August of 2008 and included a 2 carat, gem-quality crystal form a very small surface sample.

Famous Diamonds

Video includes the formation of diamonds and the story of the Koh I Noor, the Millenium Star

Canada's Diavik Diamond Mine - World's Highest Grade Diamond Mine

In the NWT, one of the world's richest diamond deposits is being mined.

World Record for A Piece of Jewelry at Auction

Historic Blue Diamond

Diamonds in Brazil

In 1726 the Portuguese found alluvial diamonds in Brazil. Once again these were alluvial deposits. The discovery was made by one Bernardo Fonseca de Lobo while playing poker with gold prospectors. For chips they used pebbles from the stream they were prospecting. De Lobo had been to India, and recognized that some of these pebbles were diamonds. He gathered up what he could and shipped them back to the King of Portugal. This created a sensation and the small town near where they were discovered was renamed "Diamantina". For the next century and a half, Brazil was the world's centre for diamond mining. Once again slavery was used to extract the diamonds, to the benefit of the Portuguese who exploited the African slaves to dig up the diamond deposits.

Perhaps the most fascinating person of that era was a black slave by the name of Xica da Silva, who became the most powerful woman in the region. Xica was a beautiful African slave who was taken as the lover of Joao Fernandes de Oliveira. Oliveira had a concession from the Portuguese crown to extract the newly discovered diamonds in the Minas Gerais state. Xica da Silva rose to power through the wealth of Oliveira created by his diamond concession. An excellent Brazilian movie "Xica da Silva" was made in 1976 and a very popular Brazilian TV series was made in 1996 about this fascinating woman.

As the end of the 19th century drew near, events across the Atlantic in South Africa were about to usurp Brazil's place as the world's diamond capital and change forever the way diamonds were found and mined.

Diamonds in South Africa - The Birthplace of the Modern Diamond Industry

In the middle of the 19th century, the Dutch Boers of South Africa pushed their restless search for farmland into the Northern Cape, a region of vast arid plains with haphazard rock piles known locally as Kopjes. In 1866 a 15 year old farm boy Erasmus Jacobs found a shiny pebble that was to change the course of history for South Africa and create the modern diamond industry. That pebble was a 21 carat diamond which later became known as the Eureka diamond. As is often the case, the person who discovers a significant stone, profits the least. Jacobs gave it to a neighbour, Schalk van Niekirk, who suspecting it might be a diamond handed it off to a man named John O'Rielly a travelling peddlar with an agreement that they would share the profits if sold. O'Rielly forward it to Dr. William Atherstone in Grahamtown and he confirmed it was indeed a diamond. In 1867 it was purchased for £500 by Sir Philip Wodehouse, the Governor for Cape Colony. In between, a replica was exhibited at an exposition in Paris and the diamond rush began. We all know today that De Beers is the global giant of the diamond trade, but not before the world of diamond production and exploration was revolutionized by what awaited on a few dusty farms owned by the Boers of South Africa. Ultimately it led to the Boer War, in fact there were two conflicts between the British and the Boers, the first over the discovery of diamonds and the second over the discovery of gold.

Diamonds in South Africa - The History of De Beers

The history of diamonds for the last century has been dominated by one company - De Beers Consolidated and the early history of De Beers was dominated by one man - Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes was born in England in 1853 and moved to Africa as a youth to combat his asthma. He joined in 1870 his brother there who had a cotton farm. The lure of diamonds soon attracted him to the newly discovered diamond deposits around Kimberly. Rhodes got his start by renting water pumps to the miners and starting buying up claims with the profits from that venture. Over the next 10 years, Rhodes was able to consolidate the many small holdings. He bought a farm from a pair of Dutch brothers Diederik Arnoldus De Beers and Johannes Nicholas de Beers. It contained the Premier kimberlite pipe. The brothers left the farm, but their name stayed on and in 1888 De Beers Consolidated Diamond mines was formed. Rhodes figured out that the diamond pay dirt extended under the yellow ground which was decayed kimberlite. Beneath the yellow ground lay the blue ground which was unaltered kimberlite. Many miners believed it was barren, so he bought up claims from the original miners thought their claims were played out because they had extracted all the yellow dirt. Little did they know that the real pay dirt extended for thousands of feet into the heart of what became known as kimberlite pipes.

Cecil Rhodes has been viewed through the changing lens of history. For the first fifty years after his death, he was regarded as a colossus who expanded the British empire and left a huge mark on Africa. Not only did he found De Beers which went on to domiante the diamond trade for the next century, he had two colonies named after himself - Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He founded the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, University. In the last fifty years however he has come to be regarded as an arch-imperialist and symbol of the arrogance of the British colonial era.

De Beers, on the other hand, has had remarkable success in creating a global market for diamonds and mounting one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time symbolized by their slogan:

"A Diamond is Forever"

.

Cullinan Blue Diamond Breaks World Records at Auction

A fancy vivid blue, internally flawless, cusshioned-cut diamond weighing 7.03 carats sold in May of 2009 for US$9,488,754, or $US1,349,752 per carat. This price established a new record price per carat for any gemstone sold an auction and the highest price ever for a fancy vivid blue diamond sold at auction.

The blue diamond ranks among the most important diamonds ever to be offered for sale by Sotheby's. It was cut from a 26.58 carat rough discovered in 2008 at Petra Diamonds' historic Cullinan diamond mine in South Africa, the world's most consistently reliable source of blue diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has graded the stone as fancy vivid blue in colour and internally flawless in clarity, the highest possible grading for a blue diamond.

Diamonds In Canada

Following the Trail

A prospector from Kelowna, B.C. spent 10 years tracking down diamonds in Canada. Chuck Fipke's search eventually led him to a lake in the North West Territories in Canada's far north. Fipke had been following a trail of tiny grains of stone known as indicator minerals. The region had been covered by a glacier as recently as 8,500 years ago. As the glacier crawled across the land, it scraped the surface of the terrain. It passed over some kimberlite pipes and dragged along a suite of minerals that are associated with diamond deposits. These include purplish to red pyrope garnets, bright green chrome diopside and the metallic black ilmenite and olivine. Tiny grains of these minerals were scattered as the ice crushed and dragged the rock at the surface. By systematically sampling the soil, a mineral trail can be detected and with luck a perseverance lead a diamond prospector back to the source - a kimberlite pipe. This was a challenge in the NWT since kimberlite is softer than the hosting archean granite, the roughly circular pipes were ground deeper by the glacial scouring than the surrounding rock and formed depressions. As the glaciers melted those depressions became lakes. In 1991 Fipke and his partner Stuart Blusson eventually tracked down a circular lake at the head of a mineral train. The train was rich in indicator minerals. The exploratory holes were drilled through the ice of that lake and yielded 81 diamonds and the great Canadian diamond rush was on. That discovery led them to a body of water known as Lac de Gras (literally Fat lake) where they discovered a group of very rich pipes which became the Ekati diamond mine, now operated by the Australian mining giant BHP.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons by Trevor MacInnis

Second Highest Price for a Diamond

Diamonds May Have A High Tech Role

Unique proerties of diamonds makes them potentally very useful for advanced material applications.

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Unique Designer Cabochons

Rare and Precious.com

For those of you who are fans of unique, beautiful and fabulous gemstones you must check out http://www.rareandprecious.com You will find a continually changing and growing collection of designer cabochons including:

FIne Jaspers - Deschutes, Biggs, Blue Biggs, Wildhorse, Owyhee, Noreena, Mookaite and more

Fine Agates and Chalcedony- Laguna, Crazy lace, Montana, Blue Chalcedony, Carnelian, Gem Silica, Chrysoprase and more

Fossil Cabochons - DInoasaur Bone, Stingray Coral, Petrified Wood

More- Black Jade, Drusy Quartz, Spectrolite, Chrysocolla, Antique Glass, Koroit Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Moonstone, Amazonite and more...

Interview with Famous Diamond Dealers

William Goldberg and Gabi Tolkowsky give theri views

Reader Feedback

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    • Vallygems1 profile image

      Vallygems1 5 years ago

      Great Lens thanks

    • profile image

      ZazzleEnchante 6 years ago

      A well-researched, informative, interesting lens with great pics & good selection of videos! Blesses by a SquidAngel.

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      diamondsjess 7 years ago

      The history of diamonds was very interesting. I had no idea the former Rhodesia was named after the founder of De Beers. Now I know!