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FAQ: (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is diamond?
Diamond is a mineral that forms deep in the earth’s mantle at high pressure. It is the high pressure form of pure carbon (C). Diamond has unique physical properties that make it valuable as a gem. Diamonds are generally cut and polished for use in jewelry. 

2. Where are diamonds found?
Diamonds can be found in a rock called kimberlite and similar rocks. These are called primary deposits. When diamonds are weathered out of a primary deposit they form secondary, or alluvial, deposits in rivers and streams. Diamonds are found on most continents. Russia, Botswana, Canada, Australia and South Africa are all important diamond producing countries. 

3. What is a kimberlite and why is it important?
A kimberlite is one type of rock that contains diamonds. Most primary diamond mines have kimberlite ore. Lamproite and orangeite, rocks that form in a similar environment to kimberlite and can superficially resemble kimberlite, can also host diamond mines. 

4. How is a kimberlite formed?
A kimberlite originates deep in the earth's crust at least 140 km below the surface. It consists of magma or molten rock that travels upwards to the surface along deep fractures. Under these deep conditions and high pressures diamond and associated minerals can form, and become incorporated into the kimberlite. The kimberlite travels very rapidly upwards at >100 km per hour. As it gets closer to the surface it cools and partially solidifies. When the kimberlite reaches the surface it explodes to form pyroclastic deposits. The diamonds occur in the solidified kimberlite below the earth's surface as well as in the pyroclastic deposits. 

5. What is a "micro-diamond"?
A micro-diamond is a diamond with a diameter of less than 0.5 millimetres. 

6. What is a macro-diamond?
A macro-diamond is a diamond with a diameter of greater than 0.5 mm. 

7. How do you find diamonds in a kimberlite?
Large samples of kimberlite, up to many tonnes, are excavated and then crushed as required. The rock chips are concentrated by gravity techniques producing a heavy mineral concentrate. Any diamond will be in this concentrate, which is then further concentrated and examined with a microscope or by the naked eye to search for diamond and associated kimberlite indicator minerals. The finely ground kimberlite can also be dissolved using a chemical process that removes the kimberlite but leaves behind the diamonds. 

8. Why do you find diamonds in a river or stream? How did they get there and how do you collect them from the stream bed?
Over long periods of time diamond-bearing kimberlite or similar host rock is eventually eroded or broken down into rock detritus. This rock detritus will be deposited into a stream or river as it moves down a hill or when a kimberlite is crosscut by a stream or river. Since diamonds are resistant and dense they will collect in the bottom of the stream or river beds. Large samples of coarse river and stream gravels are collected and separated into fine and coarse size fractions. Each size fraction is concentrated and these concentrates are examined closely by microscope and with the naked eye to search for the presence of diamonds and associated kimberlite indicator minerals. 

9. What colour is a diamond?
A diamond can be colourless, clear to cloudy, and shades of blue, pink, green, brown, grey or yellow. Coloured diamonds are extremely rare and valuable and are more expensive than colourless diamonds. 

10. What is a kimberlite indicator mineral?
A kimberlite indicator mineral is a mineral that commonly occurs with kimberlite. The "KIMS" as they are referred to make up part of the actual kimberlite. When a kimberlite indicator mineral is found it is an indication that a kimberlite or similar rock is located close by. 

11. What are the names of some kimberlite indicator minerals?
Pyrope garnet, chrome diopside, picro-ilmenite, chrome spinel . 

12. Are there any other unique or special minerals associated with kimberlite?
Yes - ruby, sapphire and natural moissanite can be associated with kimberlite. 

13. What is moissanite?
Moissanite (SiC) is a high pressure mineral that has a similar chemical composition as diamond. It is composed of silica and carbon. It is brighter or more brilliant than diamond and as such may be considered to be a gemstone in its own right. Natural moissanite is very rare. 

14. Are there any diamonds and other precious stones in Israel?
Yes. Diamonds, sapphire, ruby and natural moissanite have recently been found in kimberlitic rocks and in stream and rivers gravels near Haifa in northern Israel. Shefa Yamim (A.T.M.) Ltd. is currently exploring the area to determine whether a diamond or precious stone mine can be opened. 

15. What country currently produces the most diamonds?
Russia produces about 25% of the world's diamonds. Canada and Botswana are close behind. 

16. Where is the largest diamond mine found?
The largest diamond mine in the world by carat production is located in the state of Western Australia. The mine is called the Argyle Mine and is famous for the pink diamonds that are mined there, although most of Argyle’s production is lower value. The Argyle Mine has been operating for 30 years but is scheduled to close in 5-7 years. The largest diamond mine by value (higher quality diamonds) is Jwaneng in Botswana. 

17. How valuable are diamonds?
Gem quality rough diamonds can be as expensive as $10,000 per carat. Some coloured diamonds can be even more valuable. 

18. How are diamonds measured in terms of abundance?
They are measured in terms of carats per hundred tons (cpht) of rock. A carat equals 0.2 grams. Economic diamond grades are generally 10 to 100 cpht, but can be lower or higher. This equates to only a few parts per million diamond in the rock.
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