Unless you work in the jewelry industry, chances are everything you know about diamond mines is based on hearsay, stereotypes, or, if you’re really out of the loop, the movie Blood Diamond. The misconceptions surrounding this industry are monstrous, and up until recently, I knew little to nothing about what really goes into mining diamonds.
Am I a jewelry nerd? Yes. But no article found on the internet could have educated me as well as my recent trip to Africa where I got to see a diamond mine firsthand and ask all the questions I had been dying for someone to explain to me.
Forevermark, a subsidiary diamond company within De Beers Group, took me to its Orapa Mine in Botswana, and all I can say is, everything I thought I knew about diamond mines was completely wrong.
But after spending a week with the company and its employees, I learned the ins and outs of the entirety of the mining, sorting, cutting, and polishing process and today, I’m going to break down what I learned for you as simply as possible. Because if I’m being completely honest, some of this stuff requires comprehending all kinds of science that my brain was not meant to comprehend.
Before this trip, when I thought of a mine, I pictured some obscure underground cave that housed the best friends of women all over the world. Surprise, surprise—the mine we went to was nothing of the sort. The De Beers Group Orapa Mine that we visited is an open-pit mine. In fact, it is the largest operating open-pit diamond mine in the world. This mine was founded in 1971 and so far in its lifespan has produced over 12.2 million carats worth of diamonds and currently employs around 2800 people.
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