Tuesday, June 28, 2016

That's a Big Diamond

The Lesedi La Rona, the world's largest uncut diamond at 1,109 carats, was discovered last fall at the Lucara mine in Botswana. It will be auctioned at Sotheby's in London. It is expected to fetch around $70 million. I think that means it has flaws that will prevent its being cut into a single giant stone, or even three or four huge stones, because otherwise it would be worth a lot more.


G. Verloren said...

I wonder much of that $70 million goes to the miners who dug it up? Or to the community living around the mine?

Some surface level research brings up a lot of results suggesting Lucara and their Karowe mine aren't nearly as awful as many other diamond companies and mines, particularly in Africa, and there are accounts that the previous owners of the mine were considerably worse for the locals. But the uniformity of the positive statements across different sources, and the lack of comment from sources that would typically be highly critical of the industry, has me wondering if it's not all just an effective whitewashing campaign. I'd have to dig in more deeply, and I'm not sure where I'd start.

Still, the entire diamond industry bothers me on a fundamental level. Diamonds are not rare - the global supply is simply artificially controlled, and the product itself is aggresively marketed to create artificial demand. We send people down into dangerous mines to perform difficult, back breaking work collecting useless hunks of carbon, which then get sold at insanely inflated prices, which are set largely through collusion and monopoly. Then massive amounts of money are spent cultivating extreme cultural and societal valuation of what is effectively a worthless mineral, purely to protect sales and profits, at the direct expense of the consumer. And while in certain cases it may well be that various mining operations manage to be minimally damaging to the local environment and communites, the majorty of diamond mines are run in brutally exploitative fashions, and have been for decades.

It's a depressing overall state of affairs, and even worse, I don't have a clue how it could even begin to change for the better.

pootrsox said...

While I love the look of precious gems, I understand the blood on most of them.

Hence, when my daughter became serious w/ a young man, I took him aside (with her permission) and offered him my mother's engagement ring-- the center stone of which came from my father's mother. I am uncertain of its history before then, but it may date back even further in our family. The young man took me up on the offer a year later, and my daughter now wears a ring which itself is about 60 years old, with stones that have been in the family for probably over 100 years.

I hope that, should she have a child, she will make the same offer and keep that ring, or at least its diamond, in the family.