A History of Diamond Mining in Australia

A brief overview of the Diamond

Diamonds contain one main element: Carbon. However, diamonds usually also contain traces of other elements such as nitrogen, sulphide or silicate. It has a cuboid crystalline structure with a hardness of 10, a refractive index of 2.417, a specific gravity of 3.52.

Diamond’s excellent properties make it an outstanding gemstone;

  • Diamond has the greatest hardness of all-natural substances which makes it highly applicable to many industrial activities
  • Diamond’s high refractive index combined with its luster and hardness, makes it a brilliant finished stone.
  • A diamond’s value increases with physical size, clarity. Diamond exists in many colours and shades such as white, yellow, pink, blue, green, and red.
What is the History of Diamond Mining in Australia?

What is the History of Diamond Mining in Australia?

Diamonds were first recorded in Australia in 1851. At first, there was a limited production, which measured between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand carats in Eastern Australia from alluvial workings. After it was adequately funded in the 1960s, modern techniques and exploration concepts were applied, and the first diamondiferous kimberlites were established.

This then led to the discovery of lamproite and economical alluvial pipe deposits at the Argyle mines in Western Australia’s Kimberly in 1979 and 1980. Almost immediately, the Argyle mine was confirmed to be the first Australian major diamond mining operation. It then became the largest source of diamonds in the world.

This discovery challenged many aspects of diamond mining, including mineral processing, gem diamond marketing, and diamond geology. Peak production was in 1994 when the Argyle mine produced over 42 million carats of rough diamonds. This represented over 40% of all world diamond production.

The stones consisted of mostly tiny brown to yellow pieces, with some colorless and almost colorless rough diamonds. An extensive diamond cutting industry then developed in India to develop these diamonds into cut gems. The Argyle mines are also responsible for the production of a small amount of rare pink diamonds. The largest diamond in Australia was mined in 2003 in the Northern Territory at the Merlin Mine, which weighed 104.73 carats. Diamonds have also been found in Western Australia in the Ellendale area.

How Do Diamonds Get Their Colors?

How Do Diamonds Get Their Colors?

Pure diamonds are mostly colorless and transparent, which makes them extremely valuable and rare.Naturally-colored diamonds get their color when trace elements interact with carbon during diamond creation. Trace elements such as Sulphur, nitrogen, and boron can cause diamonds to have yellow, green, and blue colors.

Pink Diamonds

Pink diamonds are different. They do not have any trace elements. The pink color results from the distortion of the crystal lattice created by extreme heat and pressure after the stone are formed. Distortion displaces many carbon atoms from the usual formation and this changes the appearance of light reflected by the diamonds.

This special arrangement makes the diamond appear pink. Pink diamonds can be found in different places in the world, however, the Argyle mine’s diamonds have the finest and most intense fancy pink color. Not only is a pink diamond’s structure special, but it is also extremely rare. For every million carats of diamonds produced, only one carat will have the best pink color quality. Rio Tinto donated the largest pink diamond weighing 8.01 carats in the Argyle Australian mines to Museums Victoria.

Red Diamonds

The most extraordinarily rare and most expensive of fancy-colored diamonds are the red diamonds. Red diamonds have no impurities. They have pure carbon, unlike other fancy colored diamonds. They are believed to have the same formation as pink diamonds but in a more concentrated form. A red shade in a diamond is formed during a diamond’s journey through the Earth’s Mantle to the Crust, through electron structure changes.

These diamonds are only found in Africa, Brazil, and Australia. In the market today, there is only a handful of real red diamonds. Most of them weigh less than 1 carat. Very few red diamonds weigh more than five carats. In fact, only 20 -30 gem-quality red diamonds exist in the continent.

Yellow Diamonds

Yellow-colored diamonds are formed through nitrogen inclusions. Nitrogen absorbs blue light, reflecting the color yellow in a diamond. These are the most common diamonds in the world, making up to 60% of the total weight. However, vivid yellow diamonds are only found in South Africa and are rare. Yellow diamonds are increasing in popularity. They give a modern twist to any piece of jewelry. 16% of the Argyle Mine’s diamonds are yellow diamonds and can also come in other hues such as orange-yellow, greenish-yellow, and brownish-yellow.

Blue and Green Diamonds

Amongst the rarest diamondsare blue diamonds. Their formation occurs after a lot of pressure and heat push carbon, nitrogen and boron atoms together, producing a blue color. They are found mostly in Western Australia, parts of India, and South Africa. Their rich role in history and abnormal chemical makeup makes them very fascinating.

Green Diamonds have a special property – natural radiation particles are trapped within their crystal structure during formation, resulting in strong fluorescence that appears green. Only some parts of the diamond that absorb radiation emit the green color, which results in the different profundity of color across the diamond.

Should You Choose Naturally Colored Diamonds Over Synthetic Diamonds?

Should You Choose Naturally Colored Diamonds Over Synthetic Diamonds?

Choosing between a synthetic and naturally colored diamond is indeed very simple. Synthetic diamonds take only a few weeks in laboratories to form. On the other hand, naturally-colored diamonds take millions of years to formed by nature and are assessed critically before becoming available to consumers. Natural diamonds boast natural imperfections that result in their respective clarities, colorations, carats, cuts and overall character.

If this article has led you to discover more about diamond varieties, contact us today and we can guide you through the world of the diamond.

Argyle Diamond Investments Pty Ltd are Australia’s largest supplier of Australian certified pink diamonds and have exclusive use of the Australian Pink Diamond Analytics program. This program is a data driven decision maker that tracks and statistically analyses the rarity, financial growth and value of all investment grade pink and blue diamonds. With this valuable information, Argyle Diamond Investments Pty Ltd can offer all clients an investment grade pink from $5,000AUD up. But, the highest growth diamonds, are the larger, stronger colour pinks starting from around $20,000AUD plus.


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