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The Life of a Diamond

A diamond is a mineral made of more than 99.5% pure carbon that is crystallised. The factors which have an influence on a diamonds colour and shape come from the remaining .05% of substance which makes up the diamond. Diamonds are extremely durable and strong, they are in fact the hardest known substance in the world. A diamond crystallises roughly 100 miles below the earths surface. The crystallisation occurs so low due to the temperatures and pressure required for the process to occur. The way diamonds were brought to the surface of the earth and hence found were due to volcanic eruptions occurring over 60 million years ago.

The first diamond mine every discovered was in India before 600 BC. India was renowned for being the world’ largest supplier of diamonds. Many of the known famous diamonds were found in India. However today India only produces a very small percentage of the world’s diamonds. Australia, Israel, America and South Africa are where most of the diamond production occurs today.

Diamonds are not found in the form which you find them set in beautiful rings, earrings and necklaces, they undergo many stages until they are presentable for purchase.

Stage 1 – Mining

Diamonds that were found on the earths surface were brought there by volcanic eruptions over 60 million years ago, through kimberlite pipes. The deepest diamond is roughly 3400 feet below the ground, therefore a lot of rock and gravel need to be removed before even just one carat of diamond can be accessed. In order to do this jet engines are used to thaw the frozen ground or the opposite to bear the desert heat. From all the rough diamonds found through this process only approximately 20% are polished while the remaining diamonds are used for industrial purposes.

Stage 2 – The rough diamonds journey

Most of the world’s rough diamonds are sent to De Beers’s Central Selling Organisation where they are sorted into more than 7000 different categories. The diamonds are then priced and sold to various manufacturers around the world at what is called ‘sights’. There are only ten sights a year and they last for a week. Buyers at these sight are called ‘sight-holders’. However, most rough diamonds are sold to private buyers and some through private auctions.

Step 3 – Manufacturing

The rough diamonds are then sent to a cutting centre. The major cutting centres today are in Antwerp, Israel, South Africa and New York. Once the rough diamonds get to a cutting centre it is carefully analysed and examined, to determine how to cut it in order to produce the maximum amount of value from it. After the diamonds, shape and size have been determined the diamond is marked and sawed or cleaved. Then an array of cutters have a turn cutting the diamond, each possessing a different special skill. After each cutter has done what they do best the diamond is considered to be cut and polished and ready to be sold.

Step 4 – Selling the diamond

After the diamond has been cut and polished it is ready to be sold. The usual selling chain was: a diamond manufacturer sells to a jewellery manufacturer, who sells to a diamond wholesalers, who then sells to a jewellery wholesaler, who finally sells to a retail jewellery store. However today this pipeline has all changed. All stages of the pipeline now have links to the final customer. Due to the internet a customer can purchase the same quality diamond they would buy from a retail store at a much lower price, from the manufacturer or the wholesaler. This price is so much lower because as the diamond keeps changing hand the price that is paid for the diamond gets increasingly higher. Thus once it reaches the retail jewellery store the mark-up on the diamond is exorbitant. Therefore the internet is the best way to buy diamonds as the price is lower because it takes out the middle man.