April 14, 2016

The Story Behind the Sparkle

Jeweler to the Stars Diamonds

Where do Martin Katz Diamonds come from?

The value and mystique of a diamond comes from both the scarcity of fine quality stones and the effort it takes to find them deep inside the earth. Millions of tons of ore might yield only a few carats of top-quality gems.

Martin Katz Inspecting a Cushion Cut Diamond

#MartinKatz #BehindTheScenes – sitting with his diamond cutters and polishers inspecting a spectacular 12 carat cushion diamond.

There are two ways diamonds are found: deep mining or alluvial deposits. Alluvial deposits come from centuries of water erosion that leave gem-containing soil and sediment loosely packed at the earth’s surface (typically near rivers and other water sources). Alluvial diamond mining is somewhat less complicated than recovering diamonds from deep inside the earth, which is done by open-pit and/or underground mining. Since that can have major environmental impact, diamond mining companies spend a great deal of money on ensuring the environment is disturbed as little as possible and restored afterwards.

DeBeers’ Rare Diamond Mines in Botswana

I wanted to see firsthand just how this works, and if what they claim to do to preserve the environment is actually true.  In 2008 I took a trip to visit two of De Beers’ diamond mines, Orapa and Letlhakane, both in Botswana. It was a phenomenal experience to see the origins of the beautiful stones I design with. It was also gratifying to see De Beers’ responsible sourcing programs in action. This ranged from wildlife conservation, to clean water supply, to funding healthcare and schools in diamond communities.

DeBeers White, Rare & Colored Diamonds

De Beers isn’t alone in its quest for sustainability. Rio Tinto, which owns the Argyle mine in Australia (the current source of most of world’s pink diamonds today), works with the indigenous population there and at its other mines (in Canada and India) to ensure that the local population benefits from the economic development of the mines, and that native plants and animals are not harmed but often helped.

Pink Colored Diamonds from Australia

Russian-based Alrosa, the third of the three largest diamond miners, supports communities in Yakutia (Siberia) where it operates, through healthcare, education, and financial assistance to help natives continue their traditional agricultural way of life.

Environmental sustainability is only part of the diamond industry’s commitment to ethical sourcing. The other part is ensuring that diamonds are not used as a means of funding war or human rights abuses. In 2003, the Kimberley Process was developed to guarantee that only diamonds obtained ethically and legitimately are granted a place in the supply chain. Since that time, industry regulations require every parcel of diamonds be accounted for at every step of the journey from the mine to the jeweler. Each must have a stamped certificate guaranteeing that it has been legitimately sourced. Ensuring these regulations work as intended is the responsibility of each member of the supply chain. I take my responsibility very seriously. I work only with Kimberley-compliant suppliers, and I use only diamonds that have been vetted by the Kimberley Process.

Kimberley Diamond Mine in South Africa

#MartinKatz visits the Kimberley #DiamondMine, South Africa: From 1871 to 1914, 22.6 million tonnes of earth had been removed from the Kimberely Mine. Miners dug 240 meters below Earth’s surface, entirely by hand, yielding over 13.6 million carats of diamonds. The #KimberelyMine remains one of the largest manmade excavations in the world. #DiamondEducation

Fancy Yellow Colored Diamonds for Jewelry

For every 3,000 carats of diamonds mined, only 1 to 2 carats of fancy yellow diamonds are produced. Photo by #MartinKatz

Rare Famous Kimberley Diamond

The famous Kimberley Diamond, originally a 490-carat rough champagne colored diamond was named after the Kimberley Mine in South Africa (view previous post to see Kimberley Mine). It was first cut into a 70 carat diamond in 1921 and was recut in 1958 to improve the proportions and increase it’s brilliancy. Now weighing 55.09 carats, it is one of the most far-famed #EmeraldCut diamonds in the world.