Mining of a Diamond


Ways to reach the diamonds

The journey of a beautiful diamond cut Backes & Strauss watch is a long one. The diamonds glistening in the shop windows of Mayfair's prime real-estate, the literal jewels in the crown of London shopping, have endured an arduous process, as we have seen. It is one with no guarantees - even after much educated guesswork in locating the precious stones, they still remain in the ground and must be extracted.

There are several ways of doing this. The distinguished unique cut of a Backes & Strauss diamond begins its life in a diamond mine. Diamond mines can be found around the world - some of the biggest are in Russia, while diamonds are also hugely prevalent in Australia and South Africa, to name just a handful of examples. Different types of mines means different processes of extraction are required. One of the most prevalent is open-pit mining, where diamonds up to 250m under the surface can be reached. After removing the layers of sand and rock above the precious kimberlite, a controlled explosion will get rid of around 3,000 tonnes of ore, which specialists will then search.

What it takes to produce one carat of a diamond of acceptable quality?

Another popular method, pipe mining, uses a different way to reach the diamonds, inserting tools called shanks into the kimberlite ore - or pipes as they are known, hence the name - and digging up the soil, which is then taken away for the diamonds to be separated from the soil by experts. This method is used when evidence of the presence of pipes has already been discovered, and is extremely complex, as you would imagine, with a few hundreds tonnes of ore needed to produce one carat of a diamond of acceptable quality.

A third method, alluvial mining, doesn’t focus its energies on underground but rather seeks out diamonds washed out to the edge of river beds, accessing the stones by diverting streams of water. This then creates a dry area where the diamonds can be reached and bulldozers are employed.

However they are found, the risks are enormous but the rewards are even greater. Once the raw diamonds have been freed from the ground, that gift for her, a luxury diamond watch, starts to look like a real possibility, and it is only a matter of time before it is united with the Backes & Strauss timepiece being assembled in Switzerland. As we shall see, though, the fun has really only just begun.

Anna Vasiunyk