Different Types of Diamond Mines


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:

  • open pit and underground mining
  • coastal and inland alluvial mining
  • marine mining
  • informal diamond digging

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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