Feature Gems & Gemology, Winter 1995, Vol. 31, No. 4

A History of Diamond Sources in Africa: Part I

For more than 100 years, Africa has produced large commercial quantities of diamonds and important individual stones. The earliest official finds were made from approximately 1867 onward, in sands and gravels of the Orange and Vaal Rivers in South Africa. Subsequently, diamonds were found in "hard rock" kimberlites and, most recently, in off-shore deposits along the western coast of South Africa and Namibia. Important discoveries have been made in many other African countries. Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, and Zaire have now joined South Africa as being among the top 10 diamond-producing countries worldwide. Part I of this two-part series examines the fascinating history of these numerous discoveries in southern and central Africa from the 19th century to the present. Part II will look at eastern and western Africa, as well as the history of diamond prospecting, mining, and production on the African continent.