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Journey of a Diamond: Mines to Markets

Q Report Team
Updated on October 06, 2022
3 min read

Nestled deep in the Earth, diamonds rest for millions of years before making the fascinating journey from mine to market. At each stage, the prized stones become more refined, more valuable, and closer to their ultimate destination: atop a gorgeous engagement ring setting or set in a timeless luxury watch.

Let’s explore the memorable journey of a diamond together.

Diamond Surfacing

What makes diamonds so unique? Perhaps it’s their improbable origin story, which begins some 3 billion years ago. Far beneath the Earth’s surface, scorching temperatures and fierce pressure compressed ordinary carbon molecules into the hardest crystals Mother Nature had produced.

Next, cataclysmic volcanic activity thrust the stones up to the Earth’s crust, putting them within reach of miners. Their prehistoric origins and dramatic upward migration help to explain why no two diamonds are the same. Additionally, it helps us understand why it takes sophisticated mining methods and significant time to extract natural, rough diamonds.

There are three main methods for mining diamonds: alluvial, pipe and marine.

Alluvial Mining

Alluvial diamond mining occurs on beaches and riverbeds where aeons of erosion and water currents have washed kimberlite deposits. Miners build walls to expose the diamond-bearing river or ocean bed. Workers sift through the sand and screen it to reveal the precious stones.

Pipe Mining

Demand for diamonds has steadily increased, and alluvial mining hasn’t been able to keep pace. Mining engineers developed pipe mining to strike closer to the source - the kimberlite pipes that bring stones up from the depths. 

Miners use two different methods of harvesting diamonds through pipe mining. For one, they remove layers of sand and rock just above kimberlite rocks. And second, they create parallel and vertically connected tunnels where they blast the ore and collect the stones that fall into the lower tunnel.

Marine Mining

The third diamond mining method, marine mining, extracts stones from the ocean floor. Crawlers suck gravel from the bottom of the sea through flexible pipes. Another strategy involves using a sizable ship-mounted drill to pluck up the diamond-bearing pebbles.

 

Scanning Diamonds

Once the raw diamonds have been mined, they’re analysed with a 3D scanning procedure verifying measurements and origin. The data collected on the diamond helps companies to trace them from start to finish on their journey.

Rough Diamond Verification

From the mine, a diamond travels across countries and continents and ends up at a polisher’s facility, where it is scanned once again for positive traceability. In the hands of its new owner, its potential will be identified.

Diamond Mapping

Like a human fingerprint, each rough diamond has a one-of-a-kind identity, and diamond cutters use advanced mapping technology to maximise its potential. Scans reveal diamonds’ internal birthmarks to explore the stone’s aesthetic and probably financial value.

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Planning

You could cut and polish a rough diamond in an infinite number of ways. Experts decide the best cutting plan based on the stone’s origin, size, features and birthmarks, always trying to optimise the stone’s inherent beauty and potential. 

Some natural diamonds are cut into several polished stones; others remain largely “uncut,” as you’ll see in some of these beautiful pieces of jewellery. All told, the planning stage is critical to a successful outcome.

Diamond Sawing

As we mentioned previously, diamonds are the hardest material on Earth, so cutting them requires meticulous craftsmanship and skill. Using advanced techniques (and no small amount of patience), diamond cutters saw the raw stones to exact precision standards.

Diamond Polishing

The final stage of a diamond’s metamorphosis from underground rock to sparkling gemstone is polishing. During the cutting and polishing process, the stone is repeatedly scanned to ensure that the cuts proceed according to plan. After completion, the polished stone is matched against the plan to make sure it has the expected features, and the diamond is once again scanned before its next step of the journey.

Diamond Grading

Our diamond’s next stop is a laboratory that grades it according to industry standards. Polished stones receive grades on their polish proportions, inclusions, carat weight, clarity, colour and more. Retailers and buyers rely on lab reports to help them understand a particular stone’s value and characteristics.

Documenting

Thoroughly analysed and graded, the diamond now has documentation, which should remain with it for the rest of its journey, even after a consumer purchases it. Like a birth certificate, a diamond’s documentation provides critical information about its origins and characteristics. 

 

Retailing

The diamond and its documentation are shipped off to a retailer who will sell it to a lucky customer. It may be sold on its own or set into a pendant, ring, bracelet, earrings or luxury watch. 

When you purchase a diamond, you acquire a piece of geological history. That dazzling gem on your finger waited for billions of years deep beneath the Earth’s surface before it found its way to you.

 

Protect your diamonds with Q Report jewellery insurance, whether they’re set in an Audemars Piguet timepiece or a pair of timeless earrings. You can insure your diamonds at the point of purchase by shopping with a Q Certified Jeweller, or you can obtain a policy right here from our website. Either way, we’re happy to answer any questions.

 

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