Do you ever wonder where a diamond starts and how it ends up as the finished product that most women want? Read on to find out!
A diamond travels through many lands—and many hands—before it ends up on yours.
Mining: Roughly 65 percent of diamonds are mined in Africa, most of them in Botswana. Diamonds are found in a volcanic rock called kimberlite, which is blasted out of the mine walls in large chunks and then dumped into a crusher to be turned into smaller pieces. These are then taken to a sorting house where the diamonds are separated from the rock through a number of processes that range from using old-fashioned screens to X-rays and lasers.
Sorting, Cutting, and Polishing: In their raw state, diamonds are dull and lusterless; cutting and polishing create the fire that bring stones to life. In decades past, cutters might study a diamond for three days before cutting, but today computer scanners indicate how to cut a stone for maximum brilliance. The final step of cutting, called faceting, also polishes the stone.
Grading: Before the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created a standardized grading scale in 1953, each retailer had his own system, confusing both customers and dealers. Today, most diamonds are sent to a GIA laboratory to be graded according to cut, color, carat, and clarity—also known as the Four C’s.
Wholesale: After they’re cut, diamonds are sold to dealers or to retailers in bourses, or exchanges. Of the 29 bourses worldwide, Antwerp’s is the largest, with half of all polished stones and 60 percent of all rough stones passing through this exchange. The transactions that take place in many of these bourses are governed by a traditional code of conduct dating back hundreds of years. Professional trust is paramount, and deals worth millions of dollars are sealed with only a handshake.
Retail: Once a retailer has purchased a diamond, it can be set into a piece of jewelry or left loose to sell to customers who want to choose or customize a setting. Some $72 billion worth of diamonds are sold in the United States each year, representing half of the world market. Most of these stones pass through New York’s Diamond District.
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Article excerpt from:
The Informer: From the Mine to Your Finger
by Erin Lenczycki | Published October 2011 |