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
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
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
Open-pit mining is only used when diamonds are near the surface or covered by a thin layer of sand and gravel
Diamonds are also mined from the seabed using horizontal and vertical marine mining. De Beers mines diamonds from depths of 90 - 14 meters
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
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
Rough diamonds are sorted at DeBeer's central selling organisation (CSO) for cutting, sawing, or for industrial use
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