Over 100 million carats of rough diamonds per year are mined, with some years far exceeding that. Between 2005-2008, rough carat production ranged from163-177 million carats per year. While there has been some dip in production due to the 2008 financial crisis and then again in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the diamond industry has bounced back and is going strong. In 2022, worldwide production was slightly more than 120 million carats.
Where do all these diamonds come from? Of the world's 195 countries, diamond mining takes place in just a few dozen countries, with a handful of those producing 99% of all rough diamonds. In this article, we'll dive deeper into the top 10 diamond-producing countries to give you a better understanding of where diamonds come from.
Diamonds have long been a symbol of luxury and enduring love, but their journey from the depths of the earth to the sparkle in a jeweler's showcase is a tale of geology, human endeavor, and global economics. The natural diamond, a crystalline form of carbon, is forged over billions of years under the immense pressure and heat of the earth's mantle. It's a rare occurrence that these precious stones make their way to the surface, where they can be mined and meticulously cut into the dazzling gems we cherish.
Since the 1870s, when rich deposits were first discovered in South Africa, the quest to produce diamonds has spanned the globe. Today, diamond producing countries are not limited to the African continent; significant quantities of diamonds have been found in Russia, Canada, and Australia, among others. Each region contributes its unique characteristics to the diamonds extracted, from the icy fire of Canadian stones to the rich, golden hues of Australian gems.
While the majority of mined diamonds are used in industry, due to their unparalleled hardness and thermal conductivity, it's the natural gem-quality diamonds that capture the public's imagination. These are the stones that, once cut and polished, find their way into engagement rings and heirloom pieces. Industrial diamonds, while less glamorous, are no less important, playing critical roles in cutting, grinding, and drilling in various industrial applications.
The diamond producer landscape is diverse, with countries like Botswana and Russia leading the way in terms of volume. These diamond producing nations have harnessed their natural resources to become significant players in the global market. The process of mining these stones is as complex as it is fascinating, involving extensive geological surveys to identify viable deposits, followed by the careful extraction and sorting of the rough diamonds.
Understanding where diamonds are found and how they are brought to market provides insight into the economic and environmental impact of this industry. Diamond producing countries often rely on the trade as a crucial part of their economies, creating jobs and funding development projects. However, the industry also faces challenges, including the need to operate sustainably and ethically, ensuring that the beauty of the stones is matched by the integrity of their production.
Russia is one of the leading producer of diamonds, supplying approximately 35% of the world's rough stones. There are nine diamond mines in the country and 14 alluvial placers, which are deposits of sand and gravel that contain precious metals and gemstones, including diamonds. The industry is dominated by the state-owned company Alrosa, which operates numerous mines across Russia, particularly in the Siberian region, where most of the country's diamonds are extracted. These mines yield a wide range of diamond qualities, including gem-quality stones. Russia's diamond industry has seen significant advancements in technology and exploration, and it employs strict environmental and labor standards.
Government of Botswana produces the second-highest amount of rough diamond carats and is famous for unearthing large gem-quality diamonds have been mined. In fact, six of the 10 largest rough diamonds hail from the country. Although Russia produces more carats, the industry in Botswana has a greater value due to the high quality of its diamonds, which fetch higher prices. Botswana is home to the renowned Jwaneng mine, which is often referred to as the richest diamond mine in the world diamond because it has an estimated reserve of more than 166 million carats of high-quality diamonds.
Canada, a key player in the global diamond industry, maintains its position as the third-largest producer of rough diamonds, despite a slight dip in production levels. In 2022, the mines scattered across this vast nation produced a remarkable 16.2 million carats, contributing significantly to the answer to "Where Are Diamonds Found?" The country is not only rich in these precious stones but also stands out for its stringent regulations that safeguard both the environment and the welfare of its miners.
In the realm of canadian diamonds discoveries, Canada made headlines in 2018 with the unearthing of a colossal 552 carat yellow diamond. This stunning gemstone holds the record as the largest diamond ever found on the North American continent, underscoring Canada's pivotal role in the diamond mining industry and its capacity to yield diamonds of extraordinary size and beauty.
Angola has etched its diamond narrative deeply into its soil, boasting a legacy of diamond production that spans over a century. When one seeks to uncover the origins of diamonds, the search often leads to the rich terrains of the Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces, which have long served as the heart of Angola's diamond wealth. These regions are particularly renowned for their prolific production of large type IIa diamonds, celebrated for their unmatched chemical purity. These exceptional stones, naturally devoid of nitrogen or boron impurities, rank among the most pristine and coveted diamonds in the world.
Typically, connoisseurs revere type IIa diamonds for their colorless clarity, but Angola's mines have also given rise to some of the most stunning vivid pink diamonds, infusing vibrant color into the country's impressive diamond collection. The emergence of these gems highlights Angola's significant contribution to the global diamond market and its role in enriching the diversity of precious stones that fulfill the captivating quest to discover where diamonds are found.
South Africa has numerous diamond mines and alluvial deposits scattered across the country and offshore marina mines where diamonds can be extracted from the seabed using specialized equipment. The world's largest diamond, known as the Cullinan Diamond, was unearthed in 1905 from the Premier Mine situated in Transvaal, South Africa. This remarkable gem, weighing an astounding 3106 carats and boasting near-flawless quality, was cut into nine large diamonds, 96 smaller diamonds, and nearly 20 carats of unpolished chips.
Although this country mines the fourth-highest amount of rough carats, most diamonds are lower-grade and used for industrial purposes. Over the years, the diamond industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been marked by complex challenges, including issues related to conflict diamonds (blood diamonds), environmental concerns, and social issues.
Given the world's concerns about blood diamonds, the DRC has made efforts to comply with international regulations and promote ethical diamond sourcing through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which aims to ensure that diamonds exported from the country are conflict-free.
In 2022, Namibia Diamonds are mined approximately 2 million carats, making it the eighth-largest producer of gem-quality diamonds. The country's mining operations are mainly centered along its coastline, both onshore and offshore, and marine diamond mining plays a significant role in Namibia's production.
Namibia's diamond mining industry is characterized by a strong focus on environmental conservation and protecting marine ecosystems, as well as strict regulations to ensure ethical sourcing and fair labor practices. It actively participated in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, and its diamond revenue contributes substantially to the country's economic development, including social programs and infrastructure projects.
The De Beers Group, a conglomerate with Anglo-South African roots, is renowned for its extensive involvement in various facets of the diamond industry, including mining, acquisition, retail, trade, and the production of diamonds for industrial use. The entity is renowned for its operations in open-cast, extensive alluvial, and shoreline diamond extraction. With a presence in 35 countries, De Beers and the government conducts its mining activities in locales such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Canada, and Australia.
Established in the late 19th century, specifically in 1888, De Beers once held a dominant position in the diamond market, commanding between 80% and 85% of the distribution of uncut diamonds, effectively establishing a near-monopoly status. By the turn of the millennium, however, its grip on the global diamond supply had lessened to 63%.
The company is well-known for producing millions of carats of high-quality diamonds annually, many of which are at the core of natural gem-quality. Operated by the De Beers Group, these mining sites are a testament to the company's legacy as one of the leading diamond producers. The majority of these precious stones, particularly diamonds from Botswana, continue to be mined using sophisticated techniques. Despite the global spread of its operations, the heart of De Beers' diamond production remains in Africa, contributing significantly to the world's supply of diamonds every year.
Lesotho's mining operations are conducted in the challenging mountainous terrain of the country, and its diamond industry contributes significantly to the country's economy. The country is known for its Letšeng Diamond Mine, which consistently yields some of the world's most valuable and large diamonds, including high-quality colorless and exceptional fancy colored diamonds. Lesotho has placed a strong emphasis on ethical mining practices and responsible sourcing, and it adheres to international standards to ensure that its diamonds are conflict-free, making it an active participant in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Nestled in the remote northern reaches of Western Australia's East Kimberley region, the Argyle Diamond Mine was once a bustling epicenter of diamond extraction. Renowned for its impressive output, Argyle frequently topped the charts as the world's most prolific diamond producer by volume, boasting an extraordinary yield of 14 million carats of diamonds in 2018 alone. Despite the abundance, the share of gem-quality diamonds was modest, yet it was unmatched as the primary source of the globe's pink and red diamonds, delivering over 90% of these rare hues.
Beyond these sought-after shades, Argyle was a treasure trove of other unique colors, from the deep tones of champagne and cognac diamonds to the elusive and enchanting blue diamonds. These popular diamond varieties contributed to Argyle's global fame and the diverse palette of naturally colored diamonds it provided.
In November 2020, the mine wrapped up its operations after a remarkable 37-year tenure, during which it unearthed more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds. The steward of this iconic mine, Rio Tinto, has embarked on a mission to decommission and restore the site, with plans extending to at least 2025.
Argyle's legacy is further distinguished by its geological significance; it was the first commercial diamond mine to successfully harness a lamproite volcanic pipe rather than the more commonly mined kimberlite pipe. This distinction set it apart from earlier, less fruitful endeavors, such as those in Arkansas, USA. The Rio Tinto Group, a mining conglomerate with a diverse portfolio including the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada and the Murowa diamond mine in Zimbabwe, proudly counted Argyle among its assets. This mine not only shaped the narrative of how diamonds are formed and sourced but also left an indelible mark on the diamond industry with its array of popular diamond offerings.
Sierra Leone's diamond mining industry has a tumultuous history, as it became notorious for the trade in conflict diamonds that fueled a decade-long civil war. Many consumers were made aware of appalling and dangerous mining conditions in the country from the 2006 blockbuster movie Blood Diamond. However, with the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and increased regulation, Sierra Leone has focused on responsible diamond sourcing and ethical practices. The industry is primarily driven by artisanal mining, and efforts are ongoing to formalize and improve conditions for small-scale miners as the country works to eradicate its legacy of conflict diamonds and promote a more transparent and ethical diamond trade.
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