Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 1996, Vol. 32, No. 1

A History of Diamond Sources in Africa: Part II

Following the history of diamond discoveries in southern Africa presented in Part I, this article discusses the history of diamond exploration and mining in East and West Africa. The first economic kimberlite outside South Africa was discovered in Tanzania (East Africa) in 1940, and major quantities of large, high-quality alluvial diamonds have been mined in West Africa since the mid-1930s. Early miners struggled with misconceptions about how diamonds formed and concerns as to the depth to which diamonds could occur in pipes. Mining developments and new diamond occurrences in Africa led to many of the key concepts in modern diamond geology. Although Africa's long dominance in world diamond production has diminished in recent decades, its steady output and large reserves ensure its continuing role as the most important diamond-producing region in the world, surpassing in overall impact even Australia and Russia.