Anything extremely rare is also precious. Diamonds, formed billions of years ago, are rare in that only a few survived the hazardous journey from the depths of the earth to reach the earth’s surface. Indeed, you may be surprised to learn that even though diamond production has increased in recent years, it is estimated that as few as 350 tons have ever been mined in recorded history to date. Of diamonds mined today, only about 50% are judged to be of gem quality. Even fewer are large enough to be cut into diamonds that are much bigger than the head of a match.
To recover the relatively small amount of both gem quality and industrial diamonds is not easy, even with today’s technology. Approximately 250 tons of ore must be mined and processed from the average Kimberlite pipe in order to produce a one-carat polished diamond of gem quality.
Most International of Gems
Before a diamond reaches a woman’s hand, it will probably touch at least four continents and the lives of hundreds of people. The expertise of many skilled and experienced craftsmen is necessary for the complicated process of extracting and finishing a diamond.
Though diamonds were first mined in India over 2,800 years ago, the modern industry began with discoveries in South Africa in the late 19th century. Today, however, the top four diamond producing countries, accounting for a little over 85% of the world’s rough diamond supply, are Australia, Zaire, Botswana, and the former Soviet Union. South Africa ranks fifth, followed by Namibia, Angola, Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Central African Republic, Tanzania, China, Indonesia, India and Canada.
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