A Journey with De Beers Group into the Heart of Diamond Origins
When the De Beers Group invited me on a trip to Botswana to visit Debswana’s Jwaneng Mine, it was not just an honor to be considered a partner by one of the most esteemed diamond companies in the world, but also a huge opportunity to see first hand the origin and provenance of diamonds, something that has been the foundation of my love and passion for this industry since I was introduced to it 15 years ago. I entered the diamond industry in 2013, I was enamored by the concept of these natural treasures of the earth, discovered in remote locations around the world, and living on for centuries in finished pieces of jewelry that tell the stories of the people who wear them.
Of course the sparkle is what usually captivates a consumer, but the story of diamonds is one that should be shared and heard. In a multitude of ways, from education and jobs, to healthcare and wildlife conservation, natural diamonds make a significant contribution to the lives of the people and the places where they are found. This is the belief and commitment that sits at the heart of the De Beers Institute of Diamonds Origin Suite of Services, and I am so honored and thrilled to be a part of this story.
Let’s start at the beginning. Natural diamonds are formed over billions of years and brought to the earth’s surface through volcanic eruptions. This forceful process creates intense heat and pressure, leading to the creation of unique natural diamond deposits. This can only happen under very specific circumstances and in specific regions. My simplified explanation of the origin of diamonds takes away from what is truly a miracle of nature; the discovery of these diamond deposits is a feat of science. The scarcity of kimberlite is considerable, yet it pales in comparison to the rarity of diamonds themselves. Most kimberlite pipes do not yield any diamonds, with only approximately 15% containing these precious gems, and a mere 1% proving financially feasible for extraction. Extensive and meticulous evaluations are conducted to determine the practicality of potential mines. The foremost concern is assessing their environmental repercussions and ensuring tangible benefits for the local communities involved.
This takes me to my partnership with the De Beers Group, and my visit to Botswana. Now “diamonds do good” is not a phrase that is new to me; I have been actively involved with the Natural Diamond Council’s efforts for many years, and joined the Board of the Diamonds Do Good Organization back in January 2023. But to truly understand the benefits that diamonds have to offer to a country, we should look to Botswana as a prime example. Debswana is a 50/50 partnership between De Beers and the people of Botswana that has driven the growth of Botswana’s economy for more than 50 years. Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value, and the people of Botswana take great pride in their natural resources. Not only has the country responsibly utilized its natural wealth for the good of its citizens and environment, but diamonds have also helped to develop one of Africa’s poorest nations into one of its richest per capita.
During my travels, I was able to see first hand how natural diamonds contribute directly to the lives of the people and the places where they are found. We started our trip at the De Beers Group facilities in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital city, where we toured the processing facilities, seeing diamonds through the different steps of the sorting phase. It was so clear that each employee was prideful about their contributions to their finished product, and how drastically improved their lives and the lives of their families are because of their employment. There is a strong focus on supporting health and education for the local people, and this extends to the employees of the De Beers Group and the surrounding community. There are numerous initiatives that benefit their employees directly, including healthcare and free education up to age 13, which extends to the entire nation of Botswana, as one of the many benefits of their partnership with the De Beers Group. One of the most standout visuals for me during our trip was visiting a local diamond cutting facility, where the majority of the workers on the floor were female; the De Beers Group is committed to supporting the advancement of women in Botswana, and this was powerful to see, in stark contrast to the men that dominate the cutting world on 47th street here in New York, or the many facilities overseas that predominantly employ men. The diamond mining industry in Botswana has given birth to a cutting industry that is also now growing and thriving, providing livelihood for many. The trip finished with the opportunity to visit some of the local gameparks that also benefit from the De Beers Group efforts at preservation through their many conservation initiatives.
All of these experiences in just a few short days inspired what has become the “And a Half” collection featuring diamonds with the Code of Origin from De Beers Institute of Diamonds. The collection showcases individual center diamonds with a unique Code of Origin inscription, gracefully complemented by our signature "And a Half" design—a harmonious blend of Stephanie Gottlieb's modern yet timeless aesthetic and the profound provenance journey from De Beers Institute of Diamonds. The "And a Half" designs create a captivating illusion of a suspended diamond, the centerpiece of the ensemble, supported by petite pave-set stones that enhance its brilliance and refinement. Likewise, the natural diamond is the shining star of diamond communities, delivering value back to the people who play essential roles in discovering, cutting and polishing the diamond along the journey to the splendid final product. Each center diamond has a customized Code of Origin, unique to that diamond. This code provides assurance that that 1. The diamond is natural and discovered by the De Beers Group; 2. The diamond was discovered in Botswana, Canada, Namibia, or South Africa, where it has contributed to providing jobs, healthcare, and education, with a focus on supporting women and girls; 3. The diamond is conflict-free; and 4. The diamond has helped protect the planet through wildlife conservation. This offering is truly distinctive, offering consumers the opportunity to do more than simply purchase a stunning piece of jewelry. It empowers them to possess a piece of diamond history, fostering a sense of respect and admiration for their stone's origin and the positive impact it has had.
This partnership was a team effort to bring to life; I want to thank my team for months of planning and design, as well as the De Beers Group team for the opportunity to see the incredible country of Botswana, and to experience the good that diamonds do firsthand.