Friday, September 5, 2014

Just How Much Diamond Does a Mine Produce?

By on Friday, September 05, 2014 2 Comments

Did last week's feature on photographer, Dillon Marsh's For What Its Worth series make you consider recycling every scrap of copper (and other metals) when making jewelry?  Well the next one in his remarkable series, For What Its Worth II to visualize a mine's actual output is even more shocking.

Kimberley Mine (1871 - 1914)
14.5 million carats of diamonds extracted

What he does is photograph 3 open pit diamond mines. He calculates the actual diamond output and introduces a computer generated icon of it, scaling to the size of each mine.  These are sobering images as the amount of diamonds excavated throughout the history of the mines is so small, it is hard to pick out the added CGI icons from the main pictures. The photographer had to include closeups.  

That is because only a very tiny fraction of diamond ore actually contains diamonds. On fascinating method to extract diamonds from the ore in the past was to use grease tables as diamonds did not wet with water but were lipophilic - "fat loving" (see my past post,  The Legend of the Valley of Diamonds).

Kimberley Mine (detail showing the total diamond production)
Dillon explained the purpose behind his images, "The intention is to create a kind of visualization of the merits and shortfalls of mining in South Africa, an industry that has shaped the history and economy of the country so radically.
The discovery of the Eureka diamond in 1867 near Hopetown sparked a mining industry that has led to South Africa becoming one of the world's leading diamond producers. Numerous diamond rich Kimberlite Pipes have been discovered and exploited, leaving behind giant holes which dwarf the representations of the amount of diamonds produced in each case."

Koffiefontein Mine (1870 - 2014)
7.6 million carats of diamonds extracted
While we tend to think of gemstone grade diamonds, the non-jewelry ones are still important for many industrial uses.  It is technically not the hardest natural substance any more (see link below) but the other substances are too rare to be of any use.

Koffiefontein Mine (detail showing the total diamond production)

Jagersfontein Mine (1871 - 1969)
9.52 million carats of diamonds extracted

Jagersfontein Mine (detail showing the total diamond production)
Before You Go:

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. These huge pits are sadly impressive. Though the diamond output is on a much smaller scale than precious metals (size wise - not value wise) I can only vaguely imagine the mountains of earth and rock that was taken from those enormous holes in our planet's crust.

  2. Thank you for posting this very interesting and startling photo series. What an effective way to visualize human impact and effort for gain.