The diamond mining process comes before the diamond ring
The diamond mining process is as old as the discovery of diamonds in India…this was approximately in the 9th Century BC.
The exact origin of diamonds is still something of a mystery.
Its know that diamonds were created by nature more than 3 billion years ago.
The elemental forces of heat & pressure miraculously transformed carbon in to diamonds deep below the earths’ surface.
Volcanic eruptions brought the volcanic mass where crystallization took place to the earths’ surface.
Then mass then cooled in kimberlite or lampotite pipes where most diamonds are found today.
There are two main methods of mining diamonds.
The primary method is pipe mining; the secondary is alluvial mining.
Pipe diamond mining process
Magmas containing diamonds generated by volcanic activity cooled to form diamondiferous cores or “pipes” in the earth.
Pipe mining is like the process for mining coal underground.
The “blueground” (a term used to describe the earth in which diamonds are formed) is crushed and flushed with water as it moves on conveyor belts through tubes.
Once the diamond-bearing matter is washed, it is dropped onto greased belts.
Diamonds stick to the grease; other matter is washed away.
The grease is then boiled away, leaving rough diamonds.
Alluvial diamond mining process
Some diamonds were released from volcanic pipes by erosion of the earth’s surface…they were then washed away down ancient riverbeds or to coastal areas.
This action created alluvial deposits from which diamonds are recovered.
Some of the diamond mining equipment used for these deposits involves the use of huge bulldozers to shovel the alluvial sands directly into washing plants for processing.
This method is less costly than opencast pipe mining as it’s completely mechanized.
Smaller diamond mining processes also still exist in the rivers themselves where sediment is processed for rough diamonds – often using techniques that have not changed in a hundred years like panning.
Before panning, sand containing diamonds is dug up and piled up.
The miners then take small amounts of the sand, place it in pans add water and swirl it all around…..the water-sand mixture is let to pour out gradually as more water is added until the diamonds which are heavier than sand remain at the bottom of the pan.
As simple as it might seem, this is a process that needs a lot of patience and expertise.
This is one of the reasons diamonds tend to be more expensive than other gems.
Lets also look at the Herkimer mining process.
What are herkimer diamonds?
The are a water-clear, double-terminated Quartz crystal.
These crystals which are naturally facetted with 18 natural facets ONLY come from Central New Yorks Mohawk Valley.
Herkimer diamond mining is hard work. Since the fossilized dolomite limestone is some of the hardest rock in America, you will need to be very patient.
It is manual work which might or might not yield results as the herkimer diamonds have been thoroughly mined.
So where do all these diamonds mined? Some of the largest and most productive diamond mines are in Africa.
Most of us have heard of De beers in South Africa, Namibia, DRC, Angola and Tanzania.
Do you know that mining diamonds in Sierra Leone a small country in West Africa is getting bigger and bigger?
Due to the protracted war in their country the diamond mining processes were not carried out on a large scale.
Mining is now carried out legally by small scale miners as well as large corporations who now feel that it is safe to set up mining facilities now that Sierra Leone have a stable government.