Guest infographic provided by Gear Jewelers
Guest infographic provided by Gear Jewelers
A friend catches a glance of the new, dazzling diamond pendant, elegantly dangling from your slender neck. Their jaw droops ever so slightly. “Where did you get that?” they inquire, a tinge of jealously seething just under the surface of their lilting, complimentary tone. Well, it was a present, so from a jewelry store…you assume. Then you wonder: where did it really come from?
Welcome to the illustrious world of diamond mining.
There are four major types of diamond mining:
Almost half of these mines are found in Central and South Africa. Each is a very distinct dig sight with the same goal: the uncovering of valuable diamonds.
The most common diamond mine is the open pit/underground mine. This is due in large part to the kimberlite pipes, large funnel-like tubes of rock that are the main mineral deposit for diamonds. It is because of this geometric design, narrowing with depth, that pit mines gradually get smaller as they dig deeper into the earth. Open pit mines also start very flat and begin to increase their incline the further down into the earth they go. Eventually, if the mine has become too steep or unstable the mine will become an underground mine. Because a diamond carat per ton of material (the frequency) tends to decrease the further down into a kimberlite pipe it is, an assessment must be made when it is more cost effective to begin this process. The underground mine is basically the same process only underground and with new hazards arising due to the mine structure changes. Once the mining process is complete, soil and earth that was taken out is to be replaced with as much of the initial conditions being restored as possible.
Another form of mining is coastal and inland alluvial. This type of mining is a little more delicate than open pit/underground mining. Performed on beaches and other water ways, these coastal regions require more initial work to be done before the mining process can begin. Extraction of plant life and sand and soil are performed to maintain and ecofriendly dig sight. Sea walls are built to protect the mine and the surrounding area. Because of the mass excavation, the land is generally altered, though in most situations natural forces (wind, waves, rain, etc.) will return the area to the same habitat it originally was.
If the mine isn’t seaside, but instead is underwater, the process is referred to as marine mining. Marine mining involves the use of a large sea vessel in several ways. Depending on the mine, two processes can be used, horizontal and vertical mining. In horizontal mining, a seabed crawler uses flexible hoses to being diamond-bearing gravels to the boat off of the ocean floor. With vertical mining, the kimberlite pipe is mined in relatively the same fashion, only with a drill and underwater. In both cases, care is taken to not disturb the natural habitat and any materials removed, other than diamonds, are returned as best they can.
The last process is informal diamond mining. These a generally small-scale operations done by individuals or small groups with limited equipment. It is referred to as “informal.” in part because it is typically done illegally, with no license or regard for the environment. There are no regulations or formal design to these digs. The most the unpleasant media surrounding diamond mining is often centered on informal diamond mines.
This list is a very skeletal overview of the highly technical field of diamond mining that makes your diamond worth big bucks. If you want to sell your diamond, give Diamond Lighthouse a chance to help you get the highest return. We dig deep to excavate the best price possible for your diamond jewelry. Our professional network of diamond buyers is willing to pay you the true, fair value for your diamonds, so you always receive the absolute highest payout.
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If you search under “Google images” for “diamond mines,” you’ll see pictures of something that kind of looks like a wild gray whirlpool frozen in the midst of an angry spin. In actuality, it is an open pit kimberlite mine that was formed 1 to 3.3 billion years ago when the center of the earth got so hot, it opened up and created holes scattered across its surface, then blasted magma through something now known as “pipes.”
Most diamond mines are at the surface of a large vertical shaft known as a kimberlite pipe, and miners work in tunnels that run from the main pipe. Each mine runs deep into the earth, where hundreds of tons of rock, gravel, and sand wait to be blasted and processed to yield precious gems.
The part of this diamond mine that looks like a whirlpool in the sand to the average viewer is actually called the “depositional surface” and the part that is immediately visible is called the “overburden.” Below this surface are the goods, which are jam-packed in the depths of the earth.
Diamonds are mined using a multitude of methods, including: open pit mining, stoping, and glory holing.
“Open pit mining” is a general term used to describe the mining process. Mine designers consider the stability of the mine based on the overburden, local geology and rock composition, and the weight and impact of mining machinery. In open pit mining, the natural individual “benches,” or layers, of the mine must be part of the equation.
“Stoping” is a fun word in the diamond mining field that describes an extraction process that leaves behind an open space, or a stope, in the mine’s surface. Stoping often takes place underground, and miners basically bore a hole into the mine wall, get inside of the hole, and extract the diamond. It is used when the “country rock,” or native rock, is strong enough to hold its own weight in the shape of a hole.
“Glory holing” is one of the least common mining techniques, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Anatomy of a Mine from Prospect to Production.” This is because of the damage it creates to the mining surface area. To begin the process, miners blast an underground haulageway to the targeted area, then create a “glory hole” which provides a source of fallen ore. Think of it as somewhat of an hourglass or funnel effect, where the ore at the top crumbles and falls through a comparatively tiny vertical tunnel known as an “ore pass.” Trucks carry ore from the bottom of the ore pass for extraction of the diamonds.
The environment of a mine is extremely harsh and barren, but out of the harshness comes brilliance. The painstaking process of finding a gemstone quality diamond requires the mining of 250 tons of ore per carat, only elevating their status as a precious stone. Mining techniques have developed significantly since the first large-scale diamond mining operation circa 1866 in what eventually became known as the Kimberly Mine and are now highly engineered to minimize risk and maximize diamond yield.
If you have a crater-worth of diamond jewelry sitting around at home, you might want to think about selling some of it. Selling unwanted diamond jewelry with Diamond Lighthouse is a whole lot simpler and more efficient than the diamond mining and excavation process. We help you find the most cash for your diamond jewelry, every time – there’s just no ‘stoping’ us.
In 2003 the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, the KPCS, was formed with the intention of eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, “blood diamonds” from finding their way into the legitimate rough diamond market. Aside from the immediate brutality and violence associated with the procurement of “conflict diamonds,” there are far reaching ramifications inherent in their inclusion in the diamond market; specifically, the funding of coups by weapon heavy rebel factions and the eventually toppling of U.N. sanctioned governments. While there will always be fundamental challenges in policing what was once a completely unregulated industry, despite its shortcomings, the Kimberly Process has in the very least addressed the intrinsic problems of diamond mining and trading and forcefully invoked a system of accountability. Continue reading Kimberly Process Conundrums