There are four main things we usually associate diamonds to when we see or hear about them. First, we think of how astonishing they would look on our partner’s fingers. Next, we all know diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth even though many of us have a misconception they are unbreakable (in truth they are!)

Also, some of us can relate to the industrial uses of diamonds as super heat sinks or drilling parts. And finally, most of us probably stereotype them with the high price tags pegged to diamond jewelry. Together, these four things may seem like they cover everything related to diamonds or do they not?

When was the last time you thought about the African people and miners who are getting their hands dirty in order for you to wear that beautiful engagement ring? As it turns out, mining for diamonds is one of the most resource-heavy and time-consuming process that companies have to invest their efforts in.

Even with all our technological advances and engineering tools, diamond mining still incorporates a certain level of art and science combined. So, let us also take a look some methods in which rough diamonds are extracted from the ground.

Diamond Pipe Mining

pit mining for diamonds

Abandoned Mine With a 520m Depth

Before any actual mining even takes place, prospectors need to locate diamond sources first. To hit pay dirt and get to the larger sized rough crystals, geologists follow the trail of secondary diamond sources to determine where the primary sources of pipe deposits are.

Once the pipes are found and the presence of diamonds is proven true and profitable, shanks are inserted into the ground at the ore-bearing pipes and huge amounts of soil are extracted. In order to make mining efficient and effective, the raw rock and soil are typically not examined on-site.

Instead, they are transported to special plants where the ore is processed and the rough diamonds are extracted. Depending on how rich the ore is, a few hundred tons of ore might be sieved just to produce a single carat of gem quality rough diamonds.

Even after extraction, the precious gem is still far from being set in an engagement ring. Rough stones are then sorted into various gem-quality categories and industrial-specific grades. Thereafter, the roughs are sold, cut, polished and commercialized.

As you can imagine, the journey a rough diamond undergoes from its violent formation process to being mounted on an exquisite setting is long indeed and passes through many different channels.

If you are interested in learning more about gemstones and gemology, you need to check out this epic list of FREE courses and resources we had curated. Yep, you heard that right. It’s FREE and we have readers who had been telling us how awesome it is.

Alluvial Diamond Mining

alluvial mining techniques

Alluvial Mining Processing Plant

Throughout the course of history, the Earth’s landscape had been constantly changing. Water, streams and rivers are the main drivers in the formation of secondary mining deposits as they can transport rough diamonds away from Kimberlite pipes to locations as far out as the ocean.

Another mining method that is frequently used is called alluvial mining. This type of mining is usually performed in areas of secondary deposits like riverbanks, beaches or even off-shore locations.

Alluvial mining involves the building of walls and the diversion of rivers. Once the water is emptied out and prevented from flowing into the area of interest, bulldozers can now be used to exploit the ground of the riverbank.

Usually, kimberlite ore can be found in depths of at least 15 meters. When the diamond-rich depth is reached, the raw material extracted from the ground is then transported to a special screening plant for further processing.

There’s another form of alluvial mining called artisanal mining. In essence, it is basically the same method employed by gold diggers which involves the screening and straining of mud. In the case of artisanal mining, the extraction process takes a longer time as low tech equipment and manual labor is usually involved. Compared to alluvial mining, the post-processing is shorter and a less resource-consuming task as diamonds are identified in situ of the work area.

The Impact of Diamond Mining on our Environment

Did you know that alluvial mining can cause serious deterioration and damage to our natural environment? You might have heard of the Big Hole (the Kimberley open mine) or the Jagersfontein Mine where some of the most famous diamonds in history had been unearthed.

Unknown to many people, these mines are also the biggest man-made holes and both of leave permanent scars on our planet’s surface which could be seen from space.

kimberly diamond mine

Largest man-made hole on Earth – The Kimberly open pit mine

At James Allen, every diamond sold is certified conflict-free and you get to see HD videos to visualize how each diamond looks like in real life. With more than 40,000+ GIA graded diamonds available, blows away the competition with their wide selections of loose diamonds and settings.

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  1. Jordan-
    January 21, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Follow me Paul im your biggest fan

    -Love Jordan

  2. Jordan-
    January 22, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Paul it’s me again. I was just wondering, how you doing Bud?

  3. jacky-
    February 9, 2016 at 12:16 am

    this is really interesting, i like it, no no wait, I LOVE IT!!!! :3

  4. Melody-
    April 12, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Is it only Africans who mine diamonds? Why do you always provide stereotypical images of Africans?

    “When was the last time you thought about the African people and miners who are getting their hands dirty in order for you to wear that beautiful engagement ring”

    Just using ‘miners’ works well too!

  5. Jordan-
    September 27, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Paul, me again. I was wondering how feminists work. Do they mine diamonds. Or they just pretentious.

  6. Anna-
    January 13, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    This really helped me with my college studies.

  7. Tera-
    January 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Jordan, you really freak me out, you are kind of a stalker to Paul. And, Anna have fun Diamonds are fun to study.

  8. Paul-
    February 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Jordan keep doing you bro, love you


  9. Tara-
    March 31, 2017 at 12:34 am

    This really helped with my science project! Thank You!

  10. Richard-
    April 18, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Paul I love you! This site is the best things that happened to me, ever!

  11. kyler jordaan-
    October 19, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I also admire the work of the miners because, its a very good job that they do in order for us to wear those jewellery made of diamonds dug by their own hands. they get their hands dirty for us

  12. Omer-
    March 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    This Really helped me with my Science presentation, Thank you so much!

  13. Lauren-
    May 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Whats ur last name? i’m doing a project and i’m trying to cite u

  14. Paul Gian-
    May 17, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    My last name is Gian.

    Would you be able to leave a link to your work? I would love to read about it.

  15. Interested Reader-
    January 4, 2019 at 2:40 am

    Read this interesting piece about how diamonds should be extracted, versus how they are doing it now.

  16. Paul Gian-
    January 4, 2019 at 3:39 am

    That’s really interesting. Thanks for sharing the link!

  17. jonathan-
    January 23, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for putting up this site, it really helped me with my project

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