The Life of Diamonds: Mining

True love runs deep.

So too does the process of gathering that quintessential symbol of romance: the diamond. Before diamonds dazzle buyers as loose stones, wholesale jewellery or exquisite engagement rings. Even before master craftsmen hone diamond facets to perfection. Specialised miners reap nature’s finest bounty so gem lovers can adorn themselves in delectable diamonds.

Imagine discovering diamond-rich land brimming with precious stones. A glorious find indeed. Soon your diamonds can sparkle true in their new life as wholesale gems  or jewellery. But another important step in the diamond lifecycle must come first. You must reach deep within the earth to reap your harvest.

Two main diamond mining methods are used world-wide:

  • Pipe mining
  • Alluvial mining

Once mined, better quality wholesale diamonds are destined for gem buyers. Diamonds not suitable for jewellery have a variety of industrial uses.


Precious diamonds through the pipe

Each diamond facet emits a brilliant eruption of light. Perhaps poetic reflection of their journey to naturally formed diamond mining sites. At the mouths of dead volcanic craters hardened magma forms solidified pipes. Known as Kimberlite these magma pipes can extend several kilometres into the earth. Within them lying a treasure trove of loose diamonds waiting to enchant admirers’ eyes.

Pipe mining plucks diamond ore from its robust encasement within volcanic rock and pipe. A labour of devotion, pipe mining covers vast landscape and depths. For every 250 tonnes of ore mined, a single one-carat gem quality diamond will be yielded. Yet what a gem it is.

Mining quests to retrieve heralded diamond ore begins at ground zero. Volcanic rock is dug from the pipe’s surface to explore its offerings. Once surface bounty has been collected shafts are sunk deep into the ground at pipe’s edge. Within deeper pipe zones, tunnels are driven. Diamond-rich rock is brought surface-level then spirited away to screening plants. Here host rock finally relinquishes its precious cargo. Unpolished loose diamonds bound for wholesale buyers, jewellery or loose stones.


All about alluvial diamond mining

Diamonds are nature’s finest fruit. Yet even their  splendour and resilience do not lend immunity to forces of nature. Natural erosion millions of years in the making loose multitudes of diamonds from their kimberlite resting place. Cast adrift upon oceans and water bodies, these precious stones come to rest in new surrounds. River beds, ocean floors and shorelines often carry diamond-rich harvests. Ripe for the picking of alluvial mining.

Alluvial mining can take two different forms:

  • Large scale industrial mining
  • Small scale diamond digging

Wholesale diamond jewellery suits any buyer. Yet which alluvial method is employed for mining depends upon the unique characteristics of individual diamond deposits.

Industrial alluvial mining demands high investment and rigorous regulation. Widespread material (overburden) is removed from the earth surface to reach underlying diamond-laden gravel beds. Onshore or on-river bed diamond deposits are taken as gravel to processing plants. Here the gravel is washed and searched for diamond presence.

Offshore diamond beds are ‘vacuumed’ by customised ships which suck up ocean floor gravel. Then once again, it is off to the processing plant for screening.

While a diamond’s sheen is unmistakable, alluvial diamond deposits are less easy to pinpoint. These are spread across vast geographic areas. Concentrated industrial mining is not suited to such quests. Instead, dedicated individuals or casual groups can reap treasure across sprawling diamond land.

Artisanal diamond digging is alluvial mining on a smaller scale. Truly a labour of love, alluvial digging scours landscapes for diamonds using very basic equipment.  None of the heavy duty industrial mining equipment here. Instead sieves, pans and other common apparatus is used to remove sand and gravel. Such earthly deposits are manually washed then screened for glorious gems.  About 1.3 million people in Africa work in small scale alluvial mining.


Only pristine diamonds make the cut

Miners harvest thousands of diamonds every year.  Yet of this bounty less than half will bear pedigree sufficient to qualify as wholesale gems. Many diamonds that do not make the cut as loose diamonds or jewellery shall still shine however. Industrial quality stones will find purpose in such roles as drills, grinder blades and powder abrasives. Other diamonds will be classified as near gem quality. Where these stones deliver brilliance depends on the individual diamond. Some may dazzle with a visible inclusions clarity grade. Others will serve as enduring industrial tools.

Resplendent in jewellery, divine as loose diamonds and iconic as engagement ring settings. Diamonds reign supreme as the world’s superlative gem. So when you buy wholesale diamonds online you purchase a small piece of the best. Yet if your interest in diamonds extends beyond their quintessential glisten, you’ll find an adventure in every diamond. It is not all glamour for these marvellous stones. Through a variety of mining techniques diamonds are plucked from earth’s depths to shine in the light of day.

Start your own diamond story, arrange a consultation with our expert gemologist.