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Africa: Diamond mining

Once a consumer buys a diamond, it may mean “forever”  (SIDEBAR LINK) and the end of a long, winding road for a gem that may have been under ground for millions of years and then passed through many hands on numerous continents – from Africa, to India, to Europe and beyond.

In fact, an estimated 65 percent of the roughly 130 million carats mined annually across the world originate from Africa. Diamonds mined from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone have an estimated worth of approximately $8.4 billion annually. 

Africa’s diamond mining industry dates back to 1867, when diamonds were discovered near Kimberley, South Africa. Both gem quality and industrial quality diamonds are mined across sub-Saharan Africa today, employing millions of people.

The actual stones are millions of years old created from carbon 90 miles below the earth’s surface or more – and under extreme heat and pressure. The diamond rocks are brought to the earth’s surface through volcanic eruptions of molten rock. These diamond-bearing “volcanic pipes” make up primary deposits called kimberlite. Secondary deposits, or alluvial deposits, are the result of the erosion of material from primary deposits and usually are found in rivers, streams, and along shorelines.

That’s where a rough diamond’s travels pick up today – from the mine, to the market place, to the hand of a soon-to-be bride. Diamonds conjure up all kinds of images: from love, passion, and eternal devotion to war, tragedy and strife. One common thread is that every diamond has traveled a rough-shorn path and each one tells a fascinating story…..

SIDEBAR:

DeBeers “A Diamond is Forever” SIDEBAR

DeBeers, the world’s largest diamond mining company, most lasting imprint on the diamond industry may be its marketing of the gem as an eternal symbol of love and devotion, while at the same time promulgating the myth that the commodity is incredibly scarce.

    With one of the most successful marketing slogans of the 20th century, “A Diamond is forever,” advertising campaign launched in 1948 helped institutionalize the modern tradition of giving a diamond ring as part of a wedding engagement and also helped limit the secondary market for used diamonds.

    N.W. Ayer, the advertising agency that created the campaign, touted the slogan as revolutionary because it was promoting not a particular brand, but simply the idea of the “eternal emotional value surrounding the diamond." The campaign reached all levels of society – from pushing diamonds as a symbol of love in popular films to pushing newspaper and magazine articles that emphasized the romantic value of diamonds.

Once a consumer buys a diamond, it may mean “forever” and the end of a long, winding road for a gem that may have been under ground for millions of years and then passed through many hands on numerous continents – from Africa, to India, to Europe and beyond.

In fact, an estimated 65 percent of the roughly 130 million carats mined annually across the world originate from Africa. Diamonds mined from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone have an estimated worth of approximately $8.4 billion annually. 

Africa’s diamond mining industry dates back to 1867, when diamonds were discovered near Kimberley, South Africa. Both gem quality and industrial quality diamonds are mined across sub-Saharan Africa today, employing thousands of people.

The actual stones are millions of years old – created from carbon 90 miles below the earth’s surface or more – and under extreme heat and pressure. The diamond rocks are brought to the earth’s surface through volcanic eruptions of molten rock. These diamond-bearing “volcanic pipes” make up primary deposits called kimberlite. Secondary deposits, or alluvial deposits, are the result of the erosion of material from primary deposits and usually are found in rivers, streams, and along shorelines.

That’s where a rough diamond’s travels pick up today – from the mine, to the market place, to the hand of a soon-to-be bride. Diamonds conjure up all kinds of images: from love, passion, and eternal devotion to war, tragedy and strife. One common thread is that every diamond has traveled a rough-shorn path and each one tells a fascinating story…..

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