Because of their beauty and physical characteristics, diamonds have been regarded as symbols of love, beauty and eternity. The diamond is an extremely rare mineral composed of pure carbon. It is well known for its extreme hardness, brilliance, and thermal and electrical characteristics. The principal use of diamonds is in jewellery, with the market increasing over 250% over the past 15 years. However, not all diamonds are of gem quality, in fact most diamond deposits contain a varying proportion of industrial and gem quality stones.

Industrial diamonds make up about 60% of global production by weight, with average prices varying between $US 0.50 – $US 5 / carat. Industrial diamonds main use is in abrasives lens manufacture and wire drawing in electrical circuits. Originally crushed diamonds were used for these purposes, however synthetic diamonds are now being produced in laboratories and pose a threat to the industrial diamond mine production globally. Alternatives to the use of industrial diamonds in abrasives are manufactured abrasives such as cubic boron nitride, fused aluminium oxide, and silicon carbide. Synthetic diamonds rather than natural diamonds are utilised for more than 90% of industrial applications. Russia, Botswana and South Africa are the world’s major gem quality diamond producers, with Australia being a major industrial diamond producer. Global production totalled 111 Mct in 1999.

Shaun Bakamoso

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