Although many people still think of India as the number one spot for diamond mining in the world, a lot has changed over the years. The first ever diamond was discovered in India back in 4BC and the country remained the world’s only source of these precious stones for over 1,000 years, until its main mines were exhausted.
Today, the majority of diamonds are found in these five countries:
Russia is renowned for being big, bold and extreme, and the same goes for its diamonds. Now considered to be the best resource for diamonds in the world, Russia started mining in 1947 and has at least twelve open-pit mines.
The country is the world’s largest exporter of diamonds, mining between 38 and 39 million carats in 2014 alone. By 2018 that figure had soared to more than 43 million carats, and it’s estimated that Russia has diamond resources of 973 million. The vast majority of the country’s diamond mining activities occur in Yakutia, a region of Siberia. In 2019, miners at the site discovered a one-of-a-kind double diamond named Matryoshka (after Russian nesting dolls), which was estimated to be 800 million years old.
Africa has been renowned for its exceptional diamonds since the 1870’s, with exports valid at $9.65 billion, and Botswana is the top producer in the continent.
Experts started exploring the country for diamonds in the 1950’s and mining officially began in 1971. Since then, some of the highest yields have come from Botswana, which connoisseurs argue offers a better quality of diamond than those found in Russia. Today diamonds make up around 25% of the country’s GDP, with 23.2 million carats being mined in 2013 alone.
There are seven top class mines in Botswana, two of which (Orapa and Jwaneng) are the two most productive in the world. The Karowe Diamond Mine, which is owned by Canadian company Lucara Diamond Corp, produced the second largest diamond in the world, weighing in at 1,758 carats.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Third in the list of the world’s top diamond producers is The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Around a third of the country’s diamonds are marketed by De Beers, as part of a joint venture with the DRC government and Belgian firm Sibeka, Miniere de Bakwange (MIBA).
As the only commercial diamond mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MIBA produced around nine carats in 2000. Political turmoil and economic uncertainty has led to a decline in the country’s mining activities, but there is still huge potential for the future. In 2018 DRC’s diamonds were estimated at just under 16.4 million carats, with a value of around $136.1 million. By 2019 the tally was estimated to be 19 million carats, so watch this space.
A relatively new addition to the diamond trade, Australia began its commercial mining activities in 1981. Since then it has seen the production of around 12 million carats a year, most of which come from Argyle, the country’s largest open-pit mine. There are two other diamond mines in Australia, both of which are in the Northern Territory.
The largest diamond to be found in Australia to date weighed 104.73 carats and was discovered in 2003. Since then, production has been in sharp decline and is predicted to fall from 14.2 million carats to 134.7 thousand carats by 2021.
It’s also important to note that the majority of Australia’s diamonds are not considered to be gem quality, and are instead used in the production of tools and machinery.
Canada began its mining operations in 1998, following the discovery of diamonds in the Northwest Territories in the early 90’s. The country’s first operational mine was Ekati, owned by Dominion Diamonds, and its success led to the establishment of three other active mines – Diavik (owned by Rio Tinto), Snap Lake and Victor. De Beers runs the operations at both Snap Lake and Victor.
In 2013 alone 10.6 million carats of diamonds were extracted in Canada, valued at $1.9 billion. By 2018 this figure had increased to 23 million carats, worth $2.7 billion. Following this success the country has begun developing other mines, including Stornoway Diamonds (owned by Renard) and De Beers’ GahchoKué.
Diamonds from Canada are particularly popular with buyers who are concerned about the dark side of diamond mining. Unlike other countries in which the wellbeing of workers is often severely compromised, Canada does not trade in “blood diamonds”and offers its miners safe working conditions and fair pay.
Other countries that produce gem quality diamonds are as follows:
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
Despite being the largest consumer of gem standard diamonds in the world, the United States currently has no commercial diamond mines. That may change at some point, following the increasing number of diamonds found at Arkansas Crater of Diamonds State Park, where tourists pay a small fee to look for diamonds and keep anything they find. The largest diamond found at the site weighed 6.3 carats and it’s unlikely that Arkansas will ever produce more than a few hundred carats, but there are some other rock formations in America that are starting to attract international attention.
It’s also worth noting that significant developments have been made in the production of synthetic diamonds, meaning in the future there may be no more diamond mining as we know it. In 2018, De Beers went back on its promise to never sell man made diamonds, producing lab grown gems for as little as $8,000. The company, which coined the marketing tagline “Diamonds Are Forever”, has invested $94 million in an American factory set to produce 500,000 carats a year, in turn fuelling China to improve their own manufactured diamonds.
Whatever happens, and wherever they are produced, one thing is for sure- people love diamonds. If you love them as much as we do, take a look at our online store of certified diamond jewellery!