Diamonds

Goals

  • To learn about the processes used to mine uncut diamonds and turn them into polished stones.

Early Findings

  • Africa was once the location where most diamonds were mined.
  • Today, Russia has more diamond mines and mines more diamonds than any other country. Five of the world's top 10 biggest diamond mines, that are not alluvial diamond mining projects, are located in Russia.
  • Other countries with large diamond mines include Botswana, Angola, South Africa, and Canada.
  • In 2018, Russian diamond mines accounted for 27.4% of the world's production of rough diamonds, followed by Botswana with 24.3%, and Canada with 14.4%.
Diamond Mining
  • Uncut diamonds are mined using one of three processes: pipe mining, alluvial (placer) mining, and marine mining.
  • Pipe mining is conducted either through open-pit mining or underground mining.
  • Open-pit mining involves digging down, removing layers of sand and rock until the layer of kimberlite, a special type of magma that is brought to the surface of the earth during volcanic eruptions, is reached. Once they reach the kimberlite layer, miners use explosives to blast it, breaking up the ore so it can be brought to the surface and any diamonds extracted.
  • Underground mining involves digging two tunnels at different levels, digging tunnels that connect the levels. When the top tunnel reaches the kimberlite, it is blasted and the ore falls down into the second tunnel where it is collected and brought to the surface to be processed.
  • Alluvial or placer mining is used to find diamonds that are formed or deposited in stream beds. Water from stream beds is collected and filtered, and any diamonds found collected and processed.
  • Marine mining uses large, specialized ships to mine diamonds from the seabed. First, large drills are used to dig up the seafloor. Then, large flexible hoses called crawlers are used to vacuum up the seafloor and bring it to the ships where any diamonds are removed.
  • The process of turning an uncut diamond into a polished stone is extremely difficult. It involves careful analyzing and cutting. Because cutting diamonds leaves no room for error - one mistake can completely ruin the value of a diamond - it requires specialized knowledge, tools, equipment, and techniques.
  • The first step in turning an uncut diamond into a polished stone involves carefully examining the uncut diamond, looking at and analyzing its size, shape, clarity and crystal direction. This step, which can only be completed by experts, is necessary for determining the cut that will maximize the diamond's final appearance and value.
  • Additionally, diamond processing involves coring, slicing, planning & marking, cleaving, bruting, polishing, inspecting, and recutting if necessary.
Factors that Help Determine the Value of an Uncut Diamond
  • Factors that help determine the value of an uncut diamond are
  • Clarity - determined by how many natural flaws there are in an uncut diamond and how noticeable they are.
  • Color - the tint or hue of an uncut diamond. Diamonds with a yellow or brownish tint are typically less valuable.
  • Carat - the measure of the diamond's weight/size.
Summary of the Findings Relevant to the Research
  • During our first hour of research, we were able to provide background information on diamond mining including the countries where the largest diamond mines are located. We were also able to name and briefly describe the three techniques used to mine diamonds. We were also able to describe the process used to transform a diamond from an uncut diamond into polished stone.

Proposed next steps:

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We propose continued research to build on the information we have already provided by completely describing the process used to turn an uncut diamond into a polished stone. For this, we will name and describe each process. This will include identifying who completes each process ( a diamond cutter, a jeweler....), and listing the steps and tools involved in each part of the process. We will also name to characteristics looked for in an uncut diamond that are used to determine its value both before and after it is turned into a polished stone.
We further propose research into how artificial diamonds are created in a lab. We will provide One: the material(s) used to make artificial diamonds, Two: the name and a description of each step in the process of creating artificial diamonds. Three: Details on how lab created diamonds are certified and graded, and Four: the names of 1-2 labs that are creating lab-grown (man-made) diamonds.