Did you get engaged over the festive season or on Valentine’s Day? The sparkly new diamond decorating your finger probably came from one of these countries…
We hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but the truth about diamonds is that they’re not rare. At all. There’s a plentiful supply in various corners of the world, although not in the US funnily enough – which accounts for one third of global demand for this pretty gemstone. Over 120 million diamonds are mined from the planet each year, and there are also antique diamonds and lab-grown diamonds in circulation on a yearly basis too. So, sorry if you thought you were getting something really special – you still have the meaning behind the ring to enjoy though!
Anyway, if you’re a traditional bride who opted for a diamond engagement ring, the stone most likely came from…
In 2015 Russia, the largest country in the world, produced a mind-bending 41.9 million diamonds with an average carat value of $101. That’s over one third of the world’s yearly supply of diamonds! In second place was Botswana with 20.8 million diamonds, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 16 million, Australia with 13.6 million and Canada with 11.7 million. The top 10 is rounded out by Angola (9 million), South Africa (7.2 million), Zimbabwe (3.5 million), Namibia (2.1 million) and Sierra Leone (0.5 million).
It’s important to note that not all diamonds in this list are created equal. Just because a country mines a lot of diamonds, it doesn’t mean they’re done so ethically. There’s no need to be concerned about diamonds from Russia, Botswana, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. But if you hear of diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola or Sierra Leone (despite the impressive mining numbers), be wary. These countries have been through or are enduring ongoing civil wars, which means blood diamonds are a very prevalent problem.
Thankfully, most retailers in the developed world adhere to the Kimberley Process, which stops blood diamonds entering trade. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is much improved from 15+ years ago. And with more consumers looking for ethically sourced diamonds, there’s sure to be further improvement over the coming years. Russia, Botswana, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe all have rigorous mining and exporting processes with the diamonds trackable from mine to finger.
So why do these countries have such a high concentration of diamonds? Because of geology! Diamonds form due to a combination of carbon dioxide, extremely high pressure and extremely high heat. This happens deep down in the mantle of the earth. They make their way closer to the surface (within mining distance) through volcanic eruptions, which produce kimberlite pipes through which the diamonds and a whole host of other stuff travels upwards at speed.
Southern Africa, Canada and most of the other countries on the list above have mountainous regions, which were formed by volcanic eruptions millions or billions of years ago. While they once were volcanoes, most are now just diamond filled mountains. Not all mountains are formed in the same way however, so that’s why the USA and other areas didn’t hit the jackpot.
Makes the story of your diamond engagement ring a little more interesting, doesn’t it?