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RESOURCE
Diamond Facts and Links
Geography  |   Consumers  |   Culture & History  |   Etymology  |   Geology  |   Mining & Processing   |   Uses  |   Links

Where Diamonds are Found and Traded
map

Geography

  • Diamonds are mined in about 25 countries and on every continent except Europe and Antarctica.

  • It is thought that Antarctica may be a rich source of diamonds but international accords prohibiting mining in Antarctica.

  • Major diamond trading centers are located in Antwerp, Tel Aviv, Bombay, London and Russia.

  • Currently producing countries include Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Congo, Australia, Canada, and Russia.

  • There is only one diamond mine located in the United States—in Arkansas.

Consumers

  • Americans buy approximately fifty percent of the world's diamond jewelry.

  • In 1947, Frances Gerety, a young copywriter on the De Beers account at N.W. Ayer in New York, came up with the famous slogan "A diamond is forever."

Culture & History

  • Diamonds were first mined in India over 4,000 years ago.

  • In India, each caste was permitted to own diamonds of a specific color; only kings could possess all colors of diamonds.

  • In ancient Egypt, diamonds were symbols of eternity and used in the funeral jewelry that adorned corpses.

  • A 13th century French law proclaimed that only the king could wear diamonds.

  • During the Middle Ages, it was only men who wore diamonds, as a symbol of their courage and virility. That ended in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy.

  • In Europe during the Middle Ages, it was believed that diamonds had protective and curative powers. It was also said that a diamond held in the mouth would correct the bad habits of liars and scolds. Diamonds were worn as talismans against poisoning.

Etymology

  • The word "diamond" comes from the Greek adamao, "I tame" or "I subdue." The adjective "adamas" was used to describe the hardest known substance, eventually becoming associated with the gem diamond.

  • The Sanskrit word for diamond is "vajra," meaning "thunderbolt."

  • A diamond's weight is measured in carats, a unit of measurement equal to 200 milligrams. A carat is a fifth of a gram. The term comes from the word "carubis", the seed of the carob tree.

Geology

  • Diamonds are the crystalline form of carbon. They're created in molten rock, 75 to 120 miles below the earth's surface and then transported to the surface in volcanic eruptions. In order to remain a diamond and not turn into graphite or carbon dioxide, the diamond crystals must cool both near the surface and quickly.

  • The most recent "kimberlite" volcano eruption was approximately 53 million years ago. Kimberlite pipes form when kimberlite magma, a mixture of rock material is pushed to the surface. Its important components include fragments of rock, large crystals, and crystallized magma that acts as a glue for the mixture. It rises through the Earth's crust in a network of cracks that become kimberlite pipes.

  • According to the San Diego Natural History Museum, most diamonds are over three billion years old, two-thirds the age of the Earth. Younger diamonds are only 100 million years old.

Mining & Processing

  • In a De Beers mine, on average, 250 tons of ore would need to be excavated to find one stone that would be big enough to polish a one-carat diamond.

  • When cut and polished, diamonds gain 40% of their value and lose up to half their weight.

  • Eight out of 10 of the world's rough diamonds—about 125 million carats a year—pass through Antwerp's Diamond Center.

Uses

  • Of the diamonds mined annually, fewer than 20 percent are suitable for use as gems, the other eighty percent are used in industry.

  • 80 tons of synthetic diamonds are produced annually for industrial use.


Links

Diamond Exhibits & Documentaries
The Nature of Diamonds from The American Museum of Natural History
The Diamond Deception a PBS Nova story on synthetic diamonds
The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the National Museum of Natural History
The Nature of Diamonds from The San Diego Natural History Museum

Conflict Diamonds
United Nations report detailing how diamonds and other natural resources are at the heard of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (PDF document)

Culture & History
Diamond History from Diamondcutter.com
Diamond Love and Bethrothal Rings from The American Museum of Natural History

Etymology
What Is In a Name? from The American Museum of Natural History

Facts
Facts About Diamonds from The San Diego Natural History Museum
FAQ Diamonds from The Diamond High Council

Geology
Alluvial Exploration and Mining from minelinks.com
Earth Science Resources from the Franklin Institute Online

Geography
A World of Diamonds from The American Museum of Natural History

Mining
An overview of Diamond Mining in Sierra Leone from MBendi
World Production from The Government of the Northwest Territories
Mining a Kimberlite Pipe from The American Museum of Natural History

Processing
Cutting and Polishing from The Government of the Northwest Territories
Scientific and Technical Research Centre for Diamond in Belgium

Synthetic Diamonds
Growing Diamonds from The American Museum of Natural History

Uses
Diamonds Shape the World from The American Museum of Natural History
History of Diamond Industry from Mining India

More
Controversy Over Diamonds Made Into Virtue by De Beers from the New York Times Learning Network