Miners in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho have found one of the world’s largest diamonds, a near-flawless white gem weighing nearly 500 carats, mining group Gem Diamonds said on Sunday. The diamond was discovered in the Letseng Mine on September 8, the company said in a statement. It has been analyzed by experts in Antwerp and found to weigh 478 carats, with very few inclusions and of outstanding color and clarity.”It has the potential to yield one of the largest flawless D color round polished diamonds in history,” the company said.
Letseng is one of the most productive mines in history — four of the world’s 20 largest rough diamonds have been found at the mine, including the three largest found this century. – reuters
In 2004 the mine at Letseng employed 385 “local workers.”
Blood Diamond is an Academy Award nominated 2006adventure drama film co-produced and directed by Edward Zwick and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou. The title refers to blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to finance the conflicts and profit the warlords and the diamond companies across the world. – wiki
Hopefully the workers at Letseng are adults who are treated well and compensated properly.
Diamonds were first discovered at Letseng in 1957 by explorers and was commercially mined by De Beers from 1973. – br
There is an alternative…
Lux’s Gemesis Corp. is the largest maker of lab-grown diamonds, also known in the industry as cultivated diamonds, which sell for about a third of the price of the mined gems.
Gemesis grows the stones in boxy machines in a warehouse in Sarasota, Fla., and each produces a rough 3-carat diamond in about four days – a process that takes Earth millions of years. Natural diamonds form hundreds of miles below Earth’s surface, when carbon gets trapped under great amounts of pressure, is heated and then rises to the surface.
“These are diamonds,” Lux said. “Just from a different origin: a lab.” …
Gemesis has been fine-tuning its diamond-making machines since 2000, but it’s only now that the diamonds are ready for a mass market. If local diamond retailers snap up the stones, the yellow and green products – as well as purple ones – could shimmer from local display cases this holiday season.
But first, admirers of colorless diamonds will need to be convinced that the lab-grown spoils are just as good as the gems that come from Earth’s mantle.
Rob Bates, who covers the diamond industry for the trade magazine Jewelers’ Circular Keystone, said the man-made product received a credibility boost last year when the Gemological Institute of America, the industry’s authority on valuing gems, began grading and certifying the stones just as it does mined diamonds. Jewelers at the institute found that lab-grown stones are identical to natural diamonds, which means both are the hardest material known to man. – sfgate
Read the New Diamond Age by Joshua Davis which claims Carter Clarke purchased from the Russians via Yuriy Semenov an 8,000-pound machine for $57,000 that “used hydraulics and electricity to focus increasing amounts of pressure and heat on the core of a sphere.”[Excerpt]:
The device, he was told, re-created the conditions 100 miles below Earth’s surface, where diamonds form. Put a sliver of a diamond in the core, inject some carbon, and voila, a larger diamond will grow around the sliver.
… “This is very rare stone,” he says, almost to himself, in thickly accented English. “Yellow diamonds of this color are very hard to find. It is probably worth 10, maybe 15 thousand dollars.” “I have two more exactly like it in my pocket,” I tell him. He puts the diamond down and looks at me seriously for the first time. I place the other two stones on the table. They are all the same color and size. To find three nearly identical yellow diamonds is like flipping a coin 10,000 times and never seeing tails. “These are cubic zirconium?” Weingarten says without much hope.
“No, they’re real,” I tell him. “But they were made by a machine in Florida for less than a hundred dollars.”
Weingarten shifts uncomfortably in his chair and stares at the glittering gems on his dining room table. “Unless they can be detected,” he says, “these stones will bankrupt the industry.”
… Put pure carbon under enough heat and pressure – say, 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and 50,000 atmospheres – and it will crystallize into the hardest material known. Those were the conditions that first forged diamonds deep in Earth’s mantle 3.3 billion years ago. Replicating that environment in a lab isn’t easy, but that hasn’t kept dreamers from trying. … Starting in the 1950s, engineers managed to produce tiny crystals for industrial purposes – to coat saws, drill bits, and grinding wheels. But this summer, the first wave of gem-quality manufactured diamonds began to hit the market. They are grown in a warehouse in Florida by a roomful of Russian-designed machines spitting out 3-carat roughs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A second company, in Boston, has perfected a completely different process for making near-flawless diamonds and plans to begin marketing them by year’s end. This sudden arrival of mass-produced gems threatens to alter the public’s perception of diamonds – and to transform the $7 billion industry. More intriguing, it opens the door to the development of diamond-based semiconductors.
How to Make a Diamond
The Gemesis Way:
High pressure, high temperature. Crystal is created in a chamber that mimics geologic conditions.
1. Place metal solvents and graphite in ceramic growth chamber. Insert diamond seed at bottom of chamber and put chamber in center of compression sphere.
2. Force oil into top layer of sphere, creating pressure against steel anvils. Increasing pressure is transferred through anvils and onto growth chamber. Even with minimal pressure at surface, force at center reaches 58,000 atmospheres.
3. Turn on juice. Current wired to one end of ceramic chamber raises temperature to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat and pressure cause graphite – pure carbon – to atomize. Freed carbon drawn to cooler end of chamber bonds to diamond seed, crystallizing layer by layer.
4. Wait three days.
5. Open machine. Smash growth chamber, pull out stone. Cut and polish to make sparkling diamond gem.
The Apollo Way
Chemical vapor deposition. Crystal is formed when a plasma cloud rains carbon onto diamond wafers.
1. Place diamond wafers on pedestal. Depressurize chamber to one-tenth of an atmosphere.
2. Inject hydrogen, natural gas (CH4) into chamber. Heat with microwave beam. At 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, electrons separate from nuclei, forming plasma.
3. Let it rain. Freed carbon precipitates out of plasma cloud and is deposited on wafer seeds.
4. Let it grow. Wafer seeds gradually become diamond minibricks, building up at half a millimeter a day.
5. Open chamber and remove diamond brick. Slice into wafers for semiconductors or cut and polish to make gems.