Natural Gem Diamond Production Trends

Seven countries have led the world in the production of gem-quality diamonds for over a decade. Russia, Botswana, Canada, Angola, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Namibia have all been consistently producing over one million carats per year. Their consistent performance and dominance can be seen in the accompanying graph.

Beyond the dominant producers, numerous countries produce less than one million carats per year, but are regular, consistent producers. Australia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zimbabwe all produce over 100,000 carats of gem-quality diamonds per year and have averaged at least that much for the past decade. This production comes from smaller mechanized mines or an enormous number of artisanal workers in alluvial deposits. Recent production from these countries can be seen in the accompanying table.

Diamond sorting: ALROSA produces over 20 million carats of rough diamonds every year, and most of those diamonds are a fraction of a carat in size. An army of gemologists is required to sort that tremendous quantity of small rough. Image provided by ALROSA.

Octahedral diamonds: A high proportion of ALROSA’s diamond production is in the form of regularly shaped octahedral crystals. This allows them to be cut into gems with a minimum of processing time and expense. Image provided by ALROSA.

Russia

Diamonds have been found in Russia as far back as the 18th century. The first significant production occurred in 1957 from the Mir kimberlite pipe and its adjacent placers. Since then, numerous diamondiferous pipes and alluvial deposits have been found. Most of Russia’s diamond production to-date has been from open-pit mines at the Mir and Udachnaya pipes in the Siberian Republic of Sakha.

Today, Russia is the world’s leading producer of gem-quality diamonds on the basis of carat weight and has held that position for over a decade. Botswana is the only country that has a higher production value – mainly because its production includes a high proportion of large, high-quality diamonds.

ALROSA, a Russian group of diamond mining companies, produces almost all of the diamonds mined in the country. ALROSA grades and sells its rough diamonds to a number of polished diamond manufacturers, mostly located in Russia, Belgium, India, Israel, Hong Kong and China. Most sales are through long-term supply agreements, but the company also engages in one-time sales and is developing methods for selling online.

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