Monthly Archives: May 2015

Several diamond miners form group to fight synthetics

seven-diamond-miners-form-group-to-fight-synthetics image

Russia’s Alrosa, Anglo American’s De Beers, Rio Tinto, Lucara, Dominion, Petra and Gem Diamonds are joining forces to market their gems and counter threats such as the expansion of synthetic stones.

The group, called the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), will promote diamonds as a luxury item for high-end consumers and highlight the attraction of natural diamonds amid concerns that some consumers may soon begin favouring cheaper synthetic rocks.

The association, which counts with a $6 million yearly budget, claims to be “the first-ever international representative organization to be formed by some of the leading diamond producers,” DPA said in an e-mailed statement.

The freshly formed entity will step into a role once filled by De Beers, which at one point controlled over 80% of the world’s mined diamonds

The freshly formed entity will step into a role once filled by De Beers, which at one point controlled over 80% of the world’s mined diamonds and pioneered the use of diamonds in engagement rings.

Synthetics challenge

Industry sources believe DPA’s key challenges will be to curb entry of undisclosed man-made diamonds into the market. But for diamond analyst, Paul Zimnisky, such task won’t be a challenging one. At least for now:

“The pricing of synthetics is not yet attractive enough to convert the indifferent customer, nor is the product accessible enough for the unwilling e-shopper,” he wrote earlier this month. “Until there is at least one display case devoted to synthetics in the national jewellery chains and department stores, synthetics’ reach may be limited to being just that of a specialty item.”

In the past year, prices for rough diamonds have fallen 13%, affecting miners everywhere and putting extra pressure on the industry’s so-called midstream segment — the companies in China, India, Belgium and elsewhere that buy diamonds from mine operators, then cut and polish the gems for use in jewellery.

De Beers, which is still the world’s leading diamond producer and mines in southern Africa and Canada, failed to sell 30% of the rough diamonds at its March sale. Last month it cut its 2015 output target to 30 million to 32 million carats, from as much as 34 million carats.

South Africa-focused Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL) said in April that sales in the first three months of 2015 dropped 41%, to $96.1 million. The firm attributed the decline in part to problems that wholesalers are having getting credit to purchase rough diamonds


Henry Sapiecha

Massive diamond unearthed in Russia


A massive 78.02 carat diamond, worth more than half a million dollars, has been unearthed on the Mirny Mir (Peaceful World) mine in Russia.

The regular shaped stone measures 28.5 by 28.3 by 24.2 millimetres, according to documents secured by infomine, and has only minor technogenic damages and small inclusions

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The rock has been described at transparent, with a yellowish and greenish hue.

alrosa-unearths-78-02-carat-diamond-from-its-mir-mine image

The largest stone ever extracted from the mine was found in 1980, weighed in at 342.5 carats, and was dubbed the XXVI Communist Party Congress, with another 145 carat diamond found in 2013.

Last year Petra Diamonds found a 232.08 carat diamond worth $22 million at its Cullinan mine in South Africa, while Australian miner Gem Diamonds found two 160 carat diamonds at their Letseng mine in February 2014.

However, one of the most impressive Australian finds in recent times was a 753 carat sapphire found by a fossicker, who reportedly simply found it on the ground.


Henry Sapiecha

This plant may be the best diamond-finding tool you’ll ever have

Pandanus candelabrum diamond finding plant image

While money doesn’t grow on trees, diamonds might do. Literally. That seems to be the conclusion of a study conducted in Liberia by a scientist at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, to be published in the June-July issue of the journal Economic Geology.

Stephen Haggerty, who specializes in diamond research, has found a new prickly, palm-like plant that seems to grow only on top of kimberlite pipes — columns of volcanic rock hundreds of meters across that extend deep into Earth, which are the source of most of today’s commercial diamonds.

The plant, identified as Pandanus candelabrum, could become a simple and efficient tool for diamond hunters in West Africa to uncovering potentially rich precious gems and semi-precious gemstones deposits

The plant, identified as Pandanus candelabrum, could become a simple and efficient tool for diamond hunters in West Africa to uncovering potentially rich precious gems and semi-precious gemstones deposits, the paper claims.

Haggerty, who is also chief exploration officer of Youssef Diamond Mining Company (YDMC), with concessions in Liberia, believes the plant has adapted to kimberlite soils, which are rich in magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

The scientist, who has worked in the African nation off and on since the late 1970s, has in recent years focused his prospecting efforts in the northwest part of Liberia.

Stephen Haggerty. (Image courtesy of Florida International University) image

Two years ago he discovered a new kimberlite pipe 500 meters long and 50 meters wide.

Speaking to Science Magazine, Haggerty said the soil above that pipe has already yielded four diamonds: two in the 20-carat range, and two in the 1-carat range.

According to his bio, posted at FIU’s website, he is currently conducting wide-ranging research, which includes from field activities in Brazil, India, South Africa, and West Africa (finger printing “Blood Diamonds”), “to the cosmos, pre-solar diamonds (greater than 4.5 billion years old), and the enigmatic origin of black and porous carbonado-diamond.”


Henry Sapiecha


Member of Pink Panther jewel-thief gang arrested in Spain

Borko Ilincic, who is wanted for a string of high-profile and daring robberies across the world, is being held by Spanish police after being arrested leaving a hotel in a rental car

Borko Ilincic, 33, is suspected of being part of the team behind a £2.5 million diamond heist at the Wafi City Mall in Dubai in 2007 image

An alleged leader of the Pink Panther robbery gang who is wanted over a spectacular jewellery raid in Dubai has been arrested in Spain.

Borko Ilincic, 33, is suspected of being part of the team behind a £2.5 million diamond heist at the Wafi City Mall in Dubai in 2007, in which the suspects raced through the shopping complex in two stolen cars. Ilincic was held by Spanish police in the town of Alcala de Hanares, near Madrid, as he drove out of a hotel in a hire car.

Detectives said he was carrying a Bosnian passport when he was arrested, although Mr Ilincic’s Interpol wanted file lists him as being from Serbia, from where many of the Panther gang hail.

Believed to have been formed by smugglers and militiamen from the Balkan civil wars, the Panthers are known for their inventiveness and meticulous planning, which has earned them the grudging respect of their police adversaries.

In the Wafi Mall robbery, footage of was posted on YouTube, staff at the store were threatened with replica handguns. After fleeing, the robbers then torched their getaway vehicles in a bid to destroy evidence, but Dubai police were still able to recover DNA samples. Another suspect was arrested shortly after the robbery after he tried to collect jewellery from the car, which had secretly been left under police surveillance

The Panthers got their nickname after a diamond stolen during a raid in London was later found hidden in a jar of face cream, copying a tactic used in the original 1963 Pink Panther crime comedy, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. They are thought to have robbed around £100 million worth of jewels from raids worldwide, fencing them off through Balkans crime networks.

Many of their robberies have taken place on the French Riviera, where the Pink Panther films were shot, although they have also struck as far away as Dubai, Tokyo, and London.

Their most spectacular prize to date is the Comtesse de Vendome, a 125-carat necklace of 116 diamonds worth around £20 million. It was stolen from a Tokyo jewellers in 2004, where raiders arrived on bicycles and disguised themselves with anti-pollution masks, using tear-gas to subdue store staff.

In Paris in 2004, they waited until store staff were distracted by a visit from the French prime minister’s wife before sneaking gems worth 11m euros from an unguarded safe, while in another robbery in Cannes, they put fresh paint on a bench opposite the jewellery store to deter potential witnesses from sitting there.


Henry Sapiecha


British tourist jailed for four years over $250,000 diamond theft in Cairns in far north Queensland


A 31-year-old British national who stole a diamond worth $250,000 in Cairns last year has been sentenced to four years in jail by a far north Queensland court.

The District Court heard Matthew Mark Luke John Osborne ran from the Cairns jewellery store with the rare pink argyle diamond in February last year, after asking to see the gem up close.

Police used security camera footage and fingerprints to track Osborne.

He was arrested at a Melbourne airport as he was about to board a flight to New Zealand several days after the theft.

When Osborne was arrested he told police he swallowed the gem, but it was never recovered.

Today, his lawyer said the diamond had actually been lost during a camping trip and that Osborne’s decision to steal it had been spontaneous.



Henry Sapiecha