THE QUEST FOR DIAMONDS
Diamonds come from two types of deposits; each type requires special mining techniques. Primary deposits, in which diamonds are contained in kimberlite pipes, require open pit or underground mining operations. Secondary deposits are defined as diamonds that have traveled from their original location due to erosion. These require alluvial mining, which uncovers diamonds in riverbed, coastal and marine/undersea locations.
Regardless of the way diamonds are mined, enormous investment and technical skills are necessary to construct, maintain and operate a mine. In open pit and underground mines, the ore is crushed to uncover the diamonds. Coastal mining involves the excavation of sand to find diamonds. Undersea mining entails drilling into the seabed to recover diamond-bearing gravels. Riverbed mining is often on an informal, smaller scale -- also known as artisanal digging -- and involves the most basic of equipment, such as sieves and pans, to find diamonds.
Over the years, there have been many amazing diamond discoveries. Some of the most famous finds include:
- The Cullinan - Found in South Africa in 1905, it was the world's largest gem-quality diamond, weighing 3,106 carats uncut. It holds this record even today.
- The Tiffany - Discovered in the Kimberley Mine around 1877, this 287.42-carat diamond was turned into a 128.54-carat yellow cushion cut with 90 facets. It is the icon for Tiffany and Co.
- The Golden Jubilee - Unearthed at the Cullinan mine in South Africa in1986, this 755.50-carat fancy yellow-brown diamond is now the largest cut diamond in the world, weighing 545.67 carats.
- The Jonker Diamond - At the time of its discovery in 1934, this 726-carat diamond was the fourth largest gem-quality diamond ever found. In 1977, it was sold for a reported $2,259,400.