The Complete Story Of How Diamonds Are Mined

diamond mining

Photo: De Beers

Diamonds are the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption.Despite the likes of Edward Jay Epstein railing against De Beers demand for diamonds will likely be strong as long as people are getting married. 

But where do diamonds come from? How are they mined?

We went through reports from De Beers getting various images of diamonds from the time they are mined and crushed, to the time they are sewed, cut and polished.

The process of diamond creation begins 100 miles underground where tremendous heat and pressure crystallize carbon into rough diamonds

Source: Discovery

Diamonds then reach the surface through a specific kind of volcanic eruption, called a kimberlite eruption. The last such eruption is said to have occurred over 100 million years ago and this is an image of kimberlite rock

Source: Discovery

Geologists sometime use termites to find kimberlite pipes, since in building their mounds termites sometimes dig up rocks and minerals that reveal that there could be diamonds below

To reach diamonds at the bottom of kimberlite pipes rocks are blasted and pit-mining begins. Pit-mining is the most common way to recover diamonds. In pit mining, heavy machinery, hydraulic shovels, and trucks are used to mine diamonds from the depths of kimberlite pipes

Source: De Beers

Open-pit mining is only used when diamonds are near the surface or covered by a thin layer of sand and gravel

Source: De Beers

Source: De Beers

Diamonds are also mined from the seabed using horizontal and vertical marine mining. De Beers mines diamonds from depths of 90 - 14 meters

Source: De Beers

In horizontal mining a crawler uses flexible hoses on the ocean floor to bring diamonds to the surface. In vertical mining a large-diameter drill allows for greater depth and brings diamond-bearing gravel to the surface

Source: De Beers

Source: De Beers

The first step in processing diamonds is comminution i.e. breaking the ore by crushing and milling

Source: De Beers

Source: De Beers

Because diamonds repel water and are drawn to grease, the crushed is passed over a grease belt that the diamonds then stick to. They can also be identified under x-rays

Source: De Beers

Rough diamonds are measured and sorted before they are cut

Source: De Beers

Rough diamonds are sorted at DeBeer's central selling organisation (CSO) for cutting, sawing, or for industrial use

Source: De Beers

Diamonds are sorted in thousands of categories according to weight, colour and clarity

Source: De Beers

A worker can be seen handling rough diamonds with tweezers

Source: De Beers

Rough diamonds are sorted into three categories gem quality, industrial quality, and boart

Source: Info Diamond

Though automation is used to sort diamonds, experts can categorize diamonds into 5,000 categories

Source: De Beers

The sorted diamonds are then separated for cutting

Source: De Beers

Diamonds are cut and sawed till the stone is smoothed

Source: De Beers

There are different tools and placements for diamonds depending on the facets of the diamond

Source: Israeli Diamond

Here a cutter is seen examining the facets of a diamond as he cuts it

Examiners have to constantly stop and check the facets of the diamonds

The manner in which diamonds are cut and polished also depends on their colour

Each stone is checked under the microscope for clarity

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