Feature
Gems & Gemology, Summer 2007, Vol. 43, No. 2

Global Rough Diamond Production Since 1870

Peer Reviewed Article
A. J. A. (Bram) Janse
Data for global annual rough diamond production (both carat weight and value) from 1870 to 2005 were compiled and analyzed. Production statistics over this period are given for 27 diamond-producing countries, 24 major diamond mines, and eight advanced projects. Historically, global production has seen numerous rises—as new mines were opened—and falls—as wars, political upheavals, and financial crises interfered with mining or drove down demand. Production from Africa (first South Africa, later joined by South-West Africa [Namibia], then West Africa and the Congo) was dominant until the middle of the 20th century. Not until the 1960s did production from non-African sources (first the Soviet Union, then Australia, and now Canada) become important. Distinctions between carat weight and value affect relative importance to a significant degree. The total global production from antiquity to 2005 is estimated to be 4.5 billion carats valued at US$300 billion, with an average value per carat of $67. For the 1870–2005 period, South Africa ranks first in value and fourth in carat weight, mainly due to its long history of production. Botswana ranks second in value and fifth in carat weight, although its history dates only from 1970. Global production for 2001–2005 is approximately 840 million carats with a total value of $55 billion, for an average value per carat of $65. For this period, USSR/Russia ranks first in weight and second in value, but Botswana is first in value and third in weight, just behind Australia.

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