Here are some fascinating facts about a diamond’s billion-year journey
Throughout history, diamonds have always captured the imagination of humankind. But one glance at the history of these gemstones makes one sit up in even more awe and wonder. To know that a diamond could have taken a few billion years to one day find its way to your home and heart is, literally, a story for the ages. Yet there’s a lot more to diamonds and how they get to you. And so we’ve compiled a few facts on diamond mining, both ancient and modern-day. Information that just might increase your appreciation, along with understanding, of these timeless wonders.
Most natural diamonds are between 1 billion and 3.5 billion years old. These were formed at depths of 150km to 200km beneath the Earth’s surface in what is known as the Earth’s mantle. Under high pressure and temperature, fluids containing carbon dissolved minerals and replaced them with diamonds. Eventually—and fortunately for the planet’s inhabitants—these were carried to the surface via volcanic eruptions and deposited in the much sought-after igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites.
Once upon a time in India
The earliest diamonds were found in India. In fact, for the longest time—at least until the discovery of diamonds in Brazil in the 1720s—India was believed to be the only place in the world where diamonds were mined. The star attraction: the Golconda Diamonds. Located 11km from Hyderabad, in present-day Telangana, Golconda was, until the 18th century, the premier source of the finest and the largest diamonds in the world. According to noted city historian Mohammed Safiullah, the estimated output from all the mines in Golconda would amount to an astounding 12 million carats.
Fast forward to today and we have Russia and Botswana that lead the way when it comes to possessing the largest diamond mines in the world.
Kimberlite: what’s in a name?
Kimberlite gets its name from the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where Africa’s first authenticated diamond, named Eureka, was discovered by a 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs in 1866. Kimberlites remain the most important source of natural diamonds. But not all kimberlite pipes are diamond-bearing. It is estimated that around 6,400 kimberlite pipes have been discovered across the planet so far. Of those, only about 900 have been classified as diamond-bearing. And of those, just over 30 have been worthy or feasible enough to mine. Just goes to prove why this miracle of nature is so rare.
Diamonds from the deep blue
Who would have thought that one day diamonds could be mined from the seafloor—or just under it, to be precise? Well, geologists a few decades back, that’s who! From the early days, when a swimmer would go collect diamond-bearing gravel from the shallow seabed, to the special present-day ships that lift off these gems from the ocean floor, marine diamond mining has seen a speedy evolution. What’s also nice is the fact that after the diamonds have been sifted and sorted from the overall material lifted up on board, the leftover gravel is returned back to the ocean.
Brave new world
Extracting diamonds is one thing. Safeguarding their authenticity is quite another. Diamond mining companies have come a long way in their quest to forge a path where commerce, principles and sustainability go hand in hand. Take the Kimberley Process (KP), for instance. Initiatives like the Kimberley Process are, today, more than ever, driving change, fairness and, in their own way, peace.
There’s a lot more to learn and know about diamonds and the process of diamond mining. But whatever new facet of a diamond’s journey comes to light, you know you’ll always be looking forward to the most important part: the journey a diamond makes to your heart. You can know more about this fascinating process below:
The hard fact
Diamonds are regarded as the hardest known material on earth. In fact, 58 times harder than anything else that nature has to offer
From Russia, with love
In 2014, Russia produced the most diamonds, both, by volume and value.
The seal of trust
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established in 2003.