At Mark’s Diamonds, we cannot think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than to provide a bit of background information on our diamond mining processes. We realize that ethical consumerism is important to our customers. This type of consumerism is based on the idea that purchasers are not only buying the goods, but that they are also buying the process that is used to produce them.
We Offer Conflict-Free Diamonds
We want our customers to know that not only do we offer conflict-free diamonds, we have also gone beyond that process to ensure that the sourcing of our gems is truly ethical. Governments around the world implemented the sourcing process known as the Kimberley Process in 2002. This is a worldwide agreement that controls the trade of rough diamonds. It ensures they are not used to fund wars (conflict diamonds or blood diamonds). Controls are in place to ensure that all diamond shipments contain gems that are certified, numbered and sealed. The diamonds are further scrutinized by our own highly skilled gemologists. This process is also audited to ensure that diamond buyers comply with the Kimberley Process.
Russian Diamond Sourcing
We source our diamonds from Russia from mines like the Udachni mine run by the Russian mining company Alrosa. Experts believe that Russia is one of the world’s largest diamond reserves and that their mines will one day exceed 3.6 billion carats in diamonds. Much of the territory is unexplored, but the areas that are already mined are in northern Russia in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Arkhangelsk Oblast regions. There are also diamonds in the Perm Oblast region, and these three regions by themselves account for about 60 percent of the world’s diamond reserves.
Almost all of Russia’s diamonds are in kimberlite, the blue igneous rock formation best known for containing diamonds. Kimberlite is found in volcano cores and thick sections of the earth’s crust. In fact, the term kimberlite comes from the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the 83-carat Star of South Africa diamond was discovered in 1869. This discovery created a “diamond rush” much like the California gold rush, and miners flocked to South Africa, creating the mines now known as the Big Hole.
Like South Africa, Russian kimberlite ore has above-average quality and grade of stones. The largest deposit is the Tube Udachni, a large vein of kimberlite. Other mining regions are Botuobinskaya Ayhan and Nyurbinskaya, as well as the Mir and International deposits which yield the highest in quality among all Russian diamond.
The terrain and climate in this part of Russia is severe. Much of the territory is above the Arctic Circle and the climate is extremely cold, sometimes reaching temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Mining companies have made a significant investment in the area to ensure the mines are properly run, safe and economically viable. The area typically exceeds the South African company De Beers in diamond production, producing 35 million carats – the highest rate in the world. Russia anticipates it will be up to a 40 million carat production by 2020. About 35 percent of the diamonds are used in industrial applications, while the remainder are gem quality diamonds.
Ensuring Responsible Mining Processes
The Kimberley Process ensures that diamonds are not associated with violence, poverty, human rights abuse or environmental degradation. At Mark’s Diamonds, we go beyond the standard to carefully select diamonds from ethical and environmentally responsible origins. We make sure that these mines don’t exploit their workers or use child labor, and make sure the mines offer a safe working condition, proper equipment and proper training. We also make sure that the mines we use are properly planned and regulated so that nearby land and water are not damaged by irresponsible mining. When not properly planned, mining can cause deforestation and soil erosion.
The Importance of using Israeli Diamond Cutters
Our diamonds are cut in Israel, one of the world’s leading diamond centers for polished diamonds. Israel processes a large majority of the world’s gem-quality rough diamonds. The country’s diamond polishing factories are considered the most advanced in the world. They are equipped with state-of-the-art diamond processing technologies like laser cutters and computer-aided design systems.
Their experienced craftsman called diamantaires know all shapes and cuts, and have vast experience particularly in working with larger and more expensive stones. In fact, the Israeli diamantaires have introduced many new diamond cuts into the market.
Israel developed the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) in 1937. Currently, it is one of the largest and most sophisticated centers of its kind in the world. IDE creates a business framework for its 3,000 members to ensure that the export and marketing are properly enacted to comply with the Kimberley Process. They use vetted banks, insurance companies and shipping agents and gem labs to conduct their business. IDE also sets business rules of conduct including trade rules. For these reasons, IDE is trusted in the world, and buyers from many foreign countries come to purchase their diamonds in Israel.
Working with the IDE Allows us to Offer You a Wide Range of Diamond Cuts, Shapes and Sizes
About half of all diamonds purchased for sale in the U.S. come from Israel. At Mark’s, we love our visits to the Israel Diamond Exchange. It is a shopping spree of epic proportions. They trade in every type of diamond — every size, shape and quality from small, medium and large stones, to round or more complex cuts. They have diamonds in every grade and every shade. Every diamond deal ends with “mazal u ‘bracha”, Hebrew for “may the deal bring luck and blessings.
The Importance of IDE to the Rest of the Diamond Industry
Perhaps the best part about IDE is that it is where mining and purchasing come together. All the representatives of the leading diamond mining companies and the leading international rough diamond traders are located in the IDE for transparency and accountability. If something goes wrong, IDE will know about it and members will hold their fellow members accountable. The IDE plays a key role in the Kimberley Process, and in fact has been a leader in implementing the process worldwide. IDE also works closely with the state of Israel to promote the welfare of citizens who work in the diamond industry.
Diamonds are a timeless classic, and at Mark’s Diamonds, we want you to look at your ring and not only be awed by its beauty and brilliance, but also to have the background on where your diamond came from and how it got to the beautifully polished stage in its permanent setting. We want you to be able to buy diamond jewelry with confidence, knowing that your purchase can be traced to ethical origins.
At Mark’s you can be sure that your diamond is a high quality one from a legitimate source. If you want to know more, give us a call. We are a trusted source of diamond engagement and wedding rings and other fine diamond jewelry for our many happy customers. We will be happy to discuss the details and find you the perfect color, cut, clarity and carat your heart desires!