They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but they are a whole lot more too. They are the hardest substance on earth, they look amazing in jewellery and they are even used for industrial purposes, such as drill bits. But where do these little gems come from and how are they extracted deep from within the earth where they are formed?

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Let’s take a look at some of the ways diamonds are mined so that when you buy that diamond eternity ring, you know where the sparkler in the middle came from.

Pipe Mining

Pipe mining is a popular way of finding and mining diamonds, and usually, prospectors locate possible diamond-rich areas by following secondary sources, to find the pipe deposits. Once these naturally formed pipes are located and the presence of diamonds proven, shanks are sunk into the ground and large quantities of soil are extracted. The soil and raw rock mined is taken off site where it is processed at a special plant, and rough diamonds are extracted.

Even after the extraction, rough diamonds look nothing like you’d find in the rings available somewhere like, and they still need to be sorted into categories and grades. Thereafter, they are sold and are then polished, cut and ready for the commercial market.

Alluvial Mining

Alluvial mining is one of the oldest ways to mine diamonds and is used around the world, often by those in poorer areas who don’t have access to sophisticated equipment.

Alluvial mining is usually performed in areas that have secondary diamond deposits, such as riverbanks or beaches, and it involves the diversion of water to create a dry section that can then be excavated. Once the water diversion has taken place, the ground can be processed and either examined on the spot, or sent off for sorting, just like with pipe mining.

Artisanal Mining

This follows much the same course as alluvial mining but involves screening and straining mud, much like panning for gold. This type of mining is usually done by humans, not machine, and doesn’t use any heavy-duty equipment. This means that it covers a far smaller space and the results are not as impressive as the other methods, but it is ideally suited to lower income areas or areas where technology has not made much of an impact as yet.