A Brief Look at the South African Diamond Industry


Diamond Industry

South African Diamond Industry

The first thing to enter the minds of most people when they hear ‘diamonds’ is an image of the mines in South Africa. Diamonds were first discovered in the Kimberley region of South Africa, back in the year 1886. It might come as a surprise to many that the famous 21.25-carat Eureka Diamond was found by a 15-year-old boy on a farm. This urged the miners in South Africa to look for more diamonds, and they were able to find stones in different shapes and sizes over subsequent years.

During the initial years, diamond discoveries were usually made in alluvial deposits. However, after some time, miners and local people started discovering diamonds just a few kilometers off from rivers or streams. After a decade or so, the diamond mines in South Africa began producing a million carats of rough stone a year. By the late 19th century, approximately 90 percent of the diamonds produced in the world were from South African diamond mines.

Over the last 150 years or so, South African diamond mines have gained a name for themselves among diamond producers from all over the world. In fact, the mines in this country have also gone on to produce more than a few world-famous diamonds, inlcuding the Cullinan diamond. This famous stone is considered the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever, weighing an estimated 3,106.45 carats.

Today, the diamond mines in South Africa are one of the major sources of fancy color diamonds. Reports claim that large deposits of blue- and pink- colored diamonds are being found in these mines. Pink, blue, and other colors are very rare, and are also only available in some parts of the world.

Even the manufacturing of diamonds began in South Africa only in the year 1928; they soon went on to become the fifth largest diamond manufacturing center on the globe. However, the downfall was that the local diamond manufacturing industry was insufficiently cost competitive. Due to this, they were not able to accomplish the scale required to replace Israel and Belgium as the world leaders in diamond polishing. However, the mines in the country still continue to produce a million carats of diamonds each year.