The Process of Mining Diamonds

We all know that diamonds are very precious and are quite hard to find, but did you also know that that these diamonds don’t look exactly as how you see them on your rings or necklaces when they were first found? Before these stones are set into wonderful jewelries, it has to go through a long and complicated process of mining, refining, cutting, and polishing. Let’s take a look at the whole process.

Less than a half of diamonds mined every year are actually in gem quality; the rest are either “near-gem” quality or “industrial quality” diamonds. Gem quality diamonds are naturally excellent and are often used in jewelries. The clarity of these diamonds ranges from flawless through to small, visible inclusions. Near-gem quality diamonds are stones that can be used either for jewelries or for industrial, depending on its natural quality and excellence when it was first mined. The clarity of these diamonds usually ranges from visible inclusions to cloudy, industrial clarity. Industrial quality diamonds are low quality diamonds that don’t have any aesthetic excellence. These diamonds are the ones that are used on tools and equipment that requires diamonds – from dentist drills to diamond cutters. Even earth moving equipments use a certain amount of diamonds!

There are two types of mining that are used to extract these wonderful gems: Pipe mining, and alluvial mining. Pipe mining is the extraction of diamonds from volcanic pipes. Usually, a very large area has to be covered. An average of 250 tons of ore must be mined in order to produce a one-carat gem quality diamond. That’s how rare these diamonds are. Diamond pipe mines are usually found on areas with kimberlite, or blue ground. They use shafts to extend to the bottom of the pipes, eventually finding diamond-bearing rocks. These rocks are then delivered to a plant to separate the diamonds from its host rock. Alluvial mining is the process of mining diamonds from riverbeds or ocean beaches. When diamond pipes where still forming, millions of years ago, some of the diamond ores are actually weathered out and carried along to riverbeds and ocean beaches.

Crushed kimberlites are mixed with water to separate diamond-carrying rocks from the rest. The rocks that carry these expensive gems are then scanned by X-rays in order to determine where the diamonds are. The diamonds are then carefully extracted from the host rock.

Diamond cutting and polishing requires anywhere from several hours to several months to complete. During the process, a diamond will lose half of its original weight, in average. A diamond’s brilliance is actually based on the way it is cut and polished. The most popular cut for a loose diamond is the round brilliant because of its ability to give a stone the greatest possible brilliance and fire with the most minimal amount of weight loss. The polishing of the diamond begins; one by one, facets will be ground on to the stone. A facet is the tiny plane or surface that traps the light and makes a diamond sparkle. Most diamond cuts have 58 facets. A diamond has been cut well when its facets are clean, sharp, and symmetrical, and the proportions above and below the girdle are correct. A diamond is correctly proportioned when one-third of the total weight of the gem is above the girdle and two thirds below. A well-cut diamond will also be fiery, brilliant and beautiful.

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