The Kimberly diamond mine is an open pit and an underground mine based in the Kimberley region of South Africa. With a width of 463 meters across and a depth of around 240 meters, the mine has been named “Big Hole” and over the years it has yielded some of the world’s largest and most spectacular diamonds. Although exploration ceased in the “Big Hole”, it can be seen from space and it is a famous tourist attraction.
To this day, the Kimberley region is known world-wide as one of the only places that has large deposits of diamonds and because of the availability of labour in the area.
The diamonds found in Kimberly come to exist as the result of a special process that happened millions of years ago. The diamonds were formed in the mantle and brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions. These eruptions produce the kimberlite pipes that are found in the Kimberley mine today. The formation of diamonds requires very high temperatures and pressure about 150 kilometres deep into the Earth and at around 1050 degrees Celsius, which is a very rare occurrence.
The Venter diamond
Nearly 15 million diamonds were extracted from the Kimberley Diamond Mines between 1871 and 1914. The Venter diamond, which was extracted in 1951 from the region, was a yellow stone of 511.25cts and was claimed by J. Venter and his business partner E. du Plessis, according to the De Beers Archives.
The Venter diamond was a perfect octahedron and was loosely classed as a yellow but it could also be described as being between a yellow and bywaker in colour. Unfortunately for its owner Jacobus Johannes Venter, the diamond had a fairly large spot and a cluster of fine spots slightly towards one of its points so the best way to make use of it was to break it down and polish it into smaller, individual pieces.
Nonetheless, the Venter is believed to have been sold for $38,000, out of which the mine labourer who discovered it received $840. The stone was ultimately cut into twenty individual stones, all pale yellow and is to this day one of the largest diamonds ever discovered.