Monday 23rd April 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘diamonds’

An Amsterdam diamond factory guide remarks on the city’s multi-faceted competition

April 11th, 2018

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Flanders to Holland and back

March 13th, 2018

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

by Greg Klein

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

A stately building belies elaborate security guarding this Antwerp diamond bourse.

 

As if providing an outer defence, a solid line of retail jewellers blocks two broad avenues from Antwerp’s famed diamond district. Access comes mainly through a side street with a police-controlled traffic barrier. More cops and soldiers (the latter attesting to Belgium’s ongoing terror alert) patrol the narrow streets inside. The only vehicles seem to be armoured vans customized for the diamond trade or the occasional bicycle carrying an Orthodox Jew with long coat and side curls flowing in the wind but magnificent hat solidly perched.

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

Practitioners in Belgium and the Netherlands
perfected the art of transforming rough stones into jewelry.

Except for the Portuguese synagogue, the buildings look un-Antwerpishly drab, catering to four bourses, several major companies and many more smaller operations that buy and sell stones and/or cut and polish them, as well as businesses selling tools of the trade or offering services like laser inscription removal.

Travel agents advertise flights to Mumbai and the Emirates, the Union Bank of India maintains a local branch and the neighbourhood postal outlet flogs a “one-of-a-kind diamond postage stamp.”

And there are no photos allowed, a courteous but firm police officer insists.

“But I’m a journalist from Canada.”

“I realize that, but it’s not allowed.”

“Being a journalist from Canada?”

“They don’t like it.”

“They” apparently represent the world’s diamond capital, a status Antwerp still holds for grading rough, although no longer for the art of transforming those stones into jewelry. One polishing factory, however, is DiamondLand, which welcomes visitors to its workshop before ushering them into the sales department. A guide explains that Antwerp’s seemingly ubiquitous diamond retailers cater to an international clientele attracted by prices that justify travel expenses.

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

Traders in 15th-century Bruges met outside
the home of Jacob van der Beurze, from
whom the word “bourse” was derived.

Yet this global diamond centre’s far from any mine. Antwerp and other cities of the Low Countries gained that peculiar stature pretty much by inventing the modern diamond industry. Just how they did that can be explained by a visit to Bruges, aka Brugge.

Those able to tear themselves away from the insufferably pretty canal-side buildings of possibly Europe’s most beautiful fairy tale surroundings could spend a few interesting hours in the city’s Diamond Museum. There, visitors learn of Venetian traders who brought diamonds to Europe from India, once the world’s only known source, eventually establishing a permanent presence in this once-important trade centre by the 15th century. That was before 16th century Portuguese and 17th century Dutch took over the Asian trade routes.

Other European cities had diamond cutters too, but it was in Bruges in 1476 that Lodewijk van Bercken is said to have invented the technique of polishing stones using a wheel, diamond dust and olive oil. His existence might owe more to legend than fact, but the technique continued, enhanced by later refinements and more recent technology.

As local waterways silted up, Bruges lost its overseas trade and the diamond industry shifted to Antwerp, which in the late 15th century became the world’s greatest trade centre overall. The industry gained new blood with migrations of Jews fleeing the Spanish in Spain, the Spanish in Portugal and, later, the Spanish in Flanders as the industry moved once again, this time to Amsterdam. Diamonds played a part in the city’s Golden Age, which flourished especially well after Amsterdammers forced the closure of Antwerp’s port. Protestants from France and Flanders joined the religious diasporas that bolstered Europe’s diamond industry.

During all that time new diamond sources were found in Borneo, Brazil, Russia and Australia, with the greatest discoveries of all in late 19th-century South Africa. That country’s first consignment of stones sparked a boom in Amsterdam, bringing unprecedented demand for cutters and polishers.

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

This exacting profession continues
to draw new adherents.

Amsterdam’s decline began in the 1920s, to the advantage of Antwerp. Bruges also regained some stature as early 20th-century strikes encouraged some Antwerp companies to move their operations to job-starved West Flanders. Bruges’ on-and-off revival lasted about 61 years, Amsterdam held out with a few prominent companies but Antwerp prevailed. More recently, however, polishing has been moving to places like Tel Aviv, New York, Moscow and especially Surat, where the sector could be joined by the world’s largest diamond bourse, reportedly now under construction.

But Amsterdam, second only to Bruges for canal-side prettiness, to Vancouver for drugs and hookers, and to nowhere for massive mobs of selfie-snapping sightseers, still hosts companies offering workshop tours. Among them is Gassan Diamonds, now ensconced in a building that originally housed Boas Bros, once Europe’s largest company. Among the newer company’s achievements is the patented Gassan Cut with 121 facets.

Further factory visits make facet envy evident. One such operation is Coster Diamonds, founded in 1840 and the world’s oldest remaining diamond company. It was Coster that cut history’s most fabled stone, the Koh-i-Noor, now part of Britain’s Crown Jewels.

Crediting lengthy experience and new technology, Coster created the Royal 201 eight years ago by adding 144 facets to the more traditional brilliant cut, aka the Amsterdam cut. Coster also claims a Guinness record for the smallest polished stone ever—a tiny, tiny brilliant cut of 0.0000743 carats.

But with its 257-facet Star of Amsterdam created two years ago, Amsterdam’s Zazare Diamonds surpasses Gassan and Coster in the many-sided contest. This isn’t just a numbers game, a Zazare rep insists. “More facets mean more sparkle, more life,” she says.

But much of the industry’s sparkle and life have moved elsewhere, especially India. Numbers provided by Rapaport News show the country’s net polished exports, representing exports minus imports, climbed 3.8% to $20.71 billion last year. Belgium’s share fell 34% to $269.2 million.

Although India already hosts the world’s largest gem exchange in Mumbai’s Bharat Diamond Bourse, the Surat Diamond Bourse would far overshadow its neighbour. Construction has begun on a nine-tower complex that could accommodate more than 4,400 merchants, sources told Rapaport. Expected to be fully operational by 2021, the long-delayed proposal would be located within the government-planned Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) City, confirming much of the world’s trade in the country that first found and coveted the gems.

 

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

Dozens of diamond shops form a solid wall curving
along two streets outside Antwerp’s diamond district.

 

Resource Clips visits the diamond industry in Belgium and the Netherlands

But not all of them thrive.

Finnish diamond exploration reveals new kimberlite for Arctic Star

February 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | February 20, 2018

As work continues on the northern Finland property, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced a new kimberlite discovery from its Timantti diamond project on February 20. Covered only by very thin glacial overburden, the find results from four one-metre-deep pits containing kimberlite. The company has christened the body Grey Wolf, distinguishing it from the property’s other Wolf kimberlites. A rig has already been mobilized to the discovery, while a 150-kilogram sample undergoes assays to test for diamonds and kimberlite indicator minerals, and to assess mineral chemistry.

Finnish diamond exploration reveals new kimberlite for Arctic Star

The news follows an announcement earlier this month that historic drill core confirmed the presence of a new Timantti kimberlite 230 metres west of the project’s diamondiferous Black Wolf kimberlite.

Part of an ambitious winter campaign that began in November, ongoing EM and gravity surveys have identified multiple targets for excavation or drilling. Optimism has been bolstered by “the expression of diamond-favourable indicator minerals in the region, which the Wolf kimberlites cannot explain,” the company stated.

In addition to the Finnish flagship, Arctic Star also holds diamond interests in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories’ Lac de Gras region. The company’s Cap property in British Columbia, meanwhile, hosts an exceptionally rare carbonatite-syenite complex that offers potential for several commodities. Results from sampling and one drill hole released in September showed “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate grades.

The company closed oversubscribed private placements totalling $1.69 million in November.

Read an interview with Arctic Star chairperson Patrick Power.

Matthew Vickery writes about a Bavarian city built with local stone bearing millions of tiny asteroid-created diamonds

December 27th, 2017

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The missing diamonds, the homeless hero and a media-spun Christmas fable

December 27th, 2017

by Greg Klein | December 27, 2017

This small Vancouver Island city’s best known for its eponymous Nanaimo bars, known to Canadians not as biker-infested boozers but an exquisitely sweet confection believed to have originated with 19th-century Scottish coal mining families. Just in time for Christmas, some media turned the local tale of a missing diamond ring into a concoction just as rich.

Missing diamonds, a homeless hero and a media-spun Christmas fable

An overly sweet Nanaimo concoction.
(Photo: Tourism Nanaimo)

An out-of-town visitor lost the ring, which was sitting in her change purse, when she accidentally scooped it up with some money that she offered a street guy. On realizing what happened, she made a public appeal for the ring’s return, emphasizing that the guy received it purely by accident. The Nanaimo News Bulletin reported that in a straightforward December 16 story.

On December 18 in downtown Nanaimo I was approached by a stranger who I later recognized from media photos as the guy who eventually found the ring’s recipient, obtained the missing item and returned it to the owner. The stranger asked me to make a phone call for him. I replied that I don’t have a cell phone. Nevertheless he tagged along with me, talking semi-coherently about a missing diamond ring and a TV reporter named Skye. At one point he blurted out that he’d been “clean for a day.”

I asked him if he knew the ring’s whereabouts. He shouted, “I do now!” Referring to the News Bulletin story, I said the owner asked that it be turned in to the Salvation Army. He replied, “OH YEAH?” and suddenly ran off.

The Sally Ann was a block and a half in another direction.

Later that day he met up with CHEK TV and the ring’s owner. Maybe he was surprised by the fruits of his televised altruism.

They included a “generous cash reward” from the owner, followed by other gifts that poured in after CHEK broadcast its emotively condescending account. A CHEK follow-up report encouraged more donations to be dropped off at a downtown business.

Then Canadian Press took up the story, which was relayed in a dozen or more media in Canada and internationally.

But between the CHEK broadcast and the nearly viral CP account, the News Bulletin ran another story, again avoiding emotionalism. In its straightforward manner the paper also noted that two of the ring’s diamonds “had apparently been pried from their settings and were missing.”

That detail wasn’t mentioned by the CHEK reporter who witnessed the ring’s return. CP euphemistically referred to the missing stones as “some damage to the jewelry.”

Not to worry, a jeweller—an unnamed jeweller who contacted the owner directly, not through the media—has offered to replace the gems and repair the ring for free.

For all that, the owner’s goodwill knows no bounds. She wants to track down the ring’s earlier recipient to give him a cash reward too. She spent Christmas Eve handing out money to street people and started a GoFundMe campaign to help the ring returner move out of his friend’s place and into a home of his own—“and maybe even get him a puppy to love.”

A fairy tale town that’s—no fairy tale, this—made of diamonds

November 24th, 2017

by Greg Klein | November 24, 2017

Sitting amid a 72,000-tonne supply and featuring a 5,000-carat diamond church, this Bavarian city might strain the imagination of even the most feverish newsletter writer. But Nordlingen’s diamonds are real, albeit too small to have economic value. Matthew Vickery described his visit in a BBC report this week.

A fairy tale town that’s—no fairy tale, this—made of diamonds

The picture book town seen from the
tower of St. George’s 5,000-carat church.

The ninth-century town was built largely of suevite, in which the locally quarried variety comes “embedded with millions of tiny diamonds, in a concentration seen nowhere else in the world,” he states. As a result, the town’s buildings, city walls and other structures display a “shimmering” effect that locals take for granted.

As SmithsonianMag.com explains, the tiny stones were created not at depth but on surface about 15 million years ago when the site of the future town got clobbered by a one-kilometre-wide, three-billion-ton asteroid. The collision created suevite, “an impact breccia or coarse-grained rock comprised of angular fragments that can include glass, crystal and diamonds, and is commonly found at impact sites such as this one.

“When the asteroid hit the Earth, the force caused graphite-bearing gneiss rocks in the region to form diamonds due to the immense pressure—believed to have been 60 gigapascals, according to one study.”

Fifteen million years later, the locals assumed the circular town’s basin was created by a volcano which they confidently presumed to be extinct. A 1960s study by two American geologists determined the 24-kilometre-long Ries crater’s extra-terrestrial instigator. In the 1990s British researchers discovered the microscopic diamonds, attributing to the crater a not-quite-43-101 estimate of 72,000 tonnes.

“Although suevite can be found in other parts of the world from similar impacts, nowhere is the gemstone concentration as high as it is in Nordlingen,” points out Vickery. But the “gemstones” are actually not gem-quality. The tower watchman for the 5,000-carat-encrusted church of St. George tells him that the diamonds are luckily “very, very small, otherwise the tower would’ve been taken down a long time ago.”

Exploration begins at Arctic Star’s Finnish diamond project

November 23rd, 2017

Update: On November 24 Arctic Star announced the closing of a final tranche of an oversubscribed private placement totalling $1.7 million.

by Greg Klein | November 23, 2017

Having closed the acquisition a week earlier, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD now has a crew busy at its Timantti diamond project in Finland. Located among favourable regional infrastructure in the Fennoscandian Shield, which hosts the major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib, the property has geophysics, sampling and drilling planned.

Exploration begins at Arctic Star’s Finnish diamond project

Arctic Star VP of exploration Buddy Doyle
gathers kimberlite float samples at Timantti.

Timantti’s White Wolf kimberlite has already revealed 169 microdiamonds, 111 from 52.7 metres of historically extracted core and another 58 from an 18.9-kilogram sample. The current program will include ground magnetic, gravity and electromagnetic surveys over the Black and White kimberlites to define their sizes and identify other drill-worthy anomalies.

Additionally, 20 backhoe till samples will be taken to search for diamond indicator minerals. Drilling will consist of about eight holes totalling 1,500 metres, with a 500-kilogram core sample from each of the two kimberlites. Results of the program will determine whether to proceed with bulk sampling.

Work will focus on a 243-hectare area covered by an exploration permit. The project also includes a 95,700-hectare exploration reservation.

Among other projects, Arctic Star holds the Cap property in east-central British Columbia, host to an extremely rare carbonatite-syenite complex that’s potentially associated with several commodities. In September the company reported “highly anomalous” assays for niobium, rare earths and phosphate from sampling and a drill hole.

In the Northwest Territories’ diamondiferous Lac de Gras region, Arctic Star also holds a 40% stake in the Diagras JV, where majority partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA carried out geophysics last summer.

This week Arctic Star appointed Scott Eldridge as president/CEO. From 2008 to 2016 Eldridge led Euroscandic International Group, providing investment banking and advisory services to resource companies. He has been responsible for raising over $500 million in equity and debt financing for mining projects internationally.

Earlier this month the company closed a private placement first tranche of $965,000.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star’s Patrick Power.

Jeweller Laurence Graff attributes unusual powers to the $53-million Lesedi La Rona rough diamond

October 20th, 2017

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Authors William Dalrymple and Anita Anand consider responses to India and Pakistan’s rival claims to the Koh-i-Noor diamond, now part of Britain’s Crown Jewels

October 17th, 2017

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Lucara Diamond scoops up $53 million for world’s largest uncut rough

September 25th, 2017

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2017

The second-largest gem-quality diamond ever found now advances to “its next stage of evolution,” as Graff Diamonds takes on the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona. A company that modestly credits itself with fashioning “the most fabulous jewels in the world” plunked down $53 million for the product of Lucara Diamond’s (TSX:LUC) Karowe mine in Botswana, an ongoing source of record-sized rocks.

Lucara Diamond scoops up $53 million for world’s largest uncut rough

The Lesedi La Rona “will dictate how it
wants to be cut,” said buyer Laurence Graff.
(Photo: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

Curiously, Lucara president/CEO William Lamb called the price “an improvement on the highest bid received at the Sotheby’s auction in June 2016.” That was when his company rejected a reported $61-million bid, hoping to haul in $70 million or more. Presumably the discrepancy results from what would have been the gavel-swinger’s piece of the action. As is usually the case for rough sales, the Graff transaction took place sans auction. By press time Lamb hadn’t responded to a ResourceClips.com inquiry.

Graff had previously paid the miner $17.5 million for a 373.72-carat shard that broke off Lesedi during the recovery process. With improved technology, Lucara and other companies hope to avoid such damage, making super-sized stones less uncommon.

The Lesedi sale amounts to $47,777 per carat, but falls short of a record for rough. In May 2016 Lucara got $63.11 million, or $77,649 per carat, for the 812.77-carat Constellation, another Karowe monster.

“The stone will tell us its story,” Laurence Graff said of his latest purchase. “It will dictate how it wants to be cut and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties.”

They’ll have to. Given the unique qualities of each stone, cutting and polishing can present heart-stopping challenges. But, since the time South Africa’s 3,106.75-carat Cullinan diamond was subdivided into nine components of Britain’s Crown Jewels, technology has improved the ability to both understand a rock’s properties and reshape it into brilliant bling.

But “why would you want to polish it?” Lamb reportedly had asked previously. According to a July 2017 Reuters story, he argued, “The stone in the rough form contains untold potential…. As soon as you polish it into one solution, everything else is gone.”

Lesedi has not only raised Karowe’s profile but influenced proposed legislation that would allow Botswana to purchase exceptionally large or unusual diamonds from its mines. Earlier this month Lucara stated its support for the plan, emphasizing that prices would reflect market values.

Read about the recently published Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond.