Biggest diamond ever found and processed in Canada unearthed near Attawapiskat – by Alex Ballingall (Toronto Star – July 26, 2013)

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The 35-carat sparkler will, after polishing, go on a world tour to promote Ontario diamonds.

It came from the earth, a crystallized clump of carbon blasted from the rocky soil of northern Ontario by a multinational mining company. Now that it’s in the hands of a leading Canadian diamond maker, the gem from the open pit mine near Attawapiskat is causing a stir. At 35 carats, it’s the biggest diamond ever pulled from Canadian soil that will also be cut and polished in the country.

“That’s what makes this unique,” said Tom Ormsby, director of external and corporate affairs for De Beers Canada, which operates the Victor Diamond Mine in northern Ontario, 90 km west of James Bay. “It will be valued once it’s done being cut and polished,” said Ormsby, who declined to say how much Vancouver-based diamond cutter Crossworks Manufacturing paid to process the precious gem.

The Canadian company, which has a contract to buy as much as 10 per cent of the annual diamond production from the De Beers’ Victor mine, started working on the diamond this week, said Ormsby.

The stone will ultimately be carved down to 15 carats, and will be shaped according to the Crossworks “Ideal Square” design that features a special “hearts and arrows” pattern. It will also be taken on an international tour to promote Ontario diamonds, Ormsby said.

By comparison, the famed “Hope” diamond at Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Museum is 45.52 carats.

David Ritter, president of the Canadian Jewellers Association, said it’s hard to predict a diamond’s value until it has been cut down. But from what he’s heard, this gem could bear quite a price tag.

“In Canada, this is somewhat rare,” he said. “Could it be worth a million dollars? Yeah, it could.

“The Victor mine produces some of the highest quality diamonds in the world.”

De Beers broke ground on the 15-hectare open-pit mine in February 2006, and diamond removal began two and half years later. Two gems from the Victor mine have been placed in the ceremonial mace at Queen’s Park, while a third is on display at the legislature, said Ormsby.

The operation consists of 16 kimberlite pipes, which are cone-shaped columns of dried lava containing diamonds that were carried up from deep underground more than 150 million years ago, explained David Atkinson, the Ontario government’s resident geologist in Timmons.

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