India’s last functioning diamond mine faces closure next week. Where did it all go wrong for a country that was once the only supplier of diamonds? On June 29, Lesedi la Rona, the second biggest diamond ever discovered, will go under the hammer at the auctioneer Sotheby’s.
A day later, India — the first diamond miner and the world’s only supplier until the 18th century — will see the closure of its only diamond mine in production today. Supreme Court’s orders!
And so, it is a happening week for diamond enthusiasts in India. I was not one, would never have been one, given my inveterate dislike for jewels, but I slowly got sucked into the world of sparkling stones when I was researching for my novel, Silence of the Cicadas, which has something to do with diamonds.
My research threw up several carats of information. For centuries, India was the only place where diamonds were discovered. Till Alexander the Great came to India, no one outside the subcontinent knew of diamonds. The Greek took home some stones and introduced the vajra to the world. It is, therefore, a cruel irony that India’s only diamond mine today, Panna, should be closed just a day after the stunning Lesedi la Rona would make headlines the world over.
The 1,109-carat diamond, as big as a tennis ball, is second in size only to the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in 1905 in South Africa. (A carat is a fifth of a gram.) A Canadian company called Lucara Diamond Corporation had, at its Karowe mine in Botswana, discovered the diamond in November 2015.
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