Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Queen of Kalahari

The best diamond. From Departures:
Diamond mining. The very words have some, well, conflict. The precious stones, first discovered in India in the fourth century B.C., are born 90 to 125 miles deep in the earth’s mantle, packed in kimberlite and lamproite, and cooked for a billion or so years under tremendous heat and pressure. Kimberlite magma funnels them up toward the surface, and then they’re blown from rock with artfully placed dynamite. Then the drama really starts.

Although diamonds were first mined in India, it was the diamonds discovered in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1866 that established the modern diamond era. And when Cecil Rhodes founded De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888, he also established the modern diamond market. In fact, by 1900, De Beers was responsible for approximately 90 percent of the rough diamonds cut in the world.
Toward the end of the 20th century, De Beers fielded competition from Rio Tinto Diamonds and Alrosa and diamonds were discovered in the former Soviet Union and in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. But in 1975, Angola, with many newly active mines, gained independence from Portugal, and diamonds went from being “a girl’s best friend” to a $4 billion down payment on a civil war. Indeed, an estimated 15 percent of diamonds purchased in the 1990s were conflict diamonds, stones originally sold for illegal and unethical gain. Today, thanks in large part to the United Nations Kimberley Process, a certification system initiated in 2000 and now adopted by 81 countries, that number has shrunk to less than 1 percent.

“Believe me, I want people to fall in love with a great stone first, then feel good about where it came from,” Scheufele says. “I first started thinking about this with gold when we introduced fair-mined gold in 2013. I believe this is where we are going as an industry. We will be like the car industry, the food industry—where this transparency will be imposed by governments. We at Chopard want to be early.” She twiddles her diamond necklace. The stones are from Botswana, by the way. “This is the new normal.”
(Read more.)

No comments: