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How a Rogue Geologist Discovered Diamonds 237

Posted by timothy
from the with-maps-microscopes-and-strippers dept.
prone2tech writes "Both NPR and Wired are running stories about how nearly two decades ago, a dogged, absentminded Canadian geologist named Charles Fipke who was practically down to his last nickel when he discovered diamonds in the Northwest Territories. Back then there was no such thing as a Canadian diamond, and today, Canada is the world's third-largest producer. The story behind the addition of Canada to the ranks of diamond-producing nations leads back to this one man. His discovery started the largest staking rush in North America since George Carmack found gold in the Klondike a century earlier."
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How a Rogue Geologist Discovered Diamonds

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  • by onion2k (203094) * on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:13PM (#26091433) Homepage

    Seems a little unfair to call the guy a 'rogue' or 'absent minded'. He's an intelligent bloke who applied his knowledge and intellect to a problem, spent nearly a decade doing the necessary legwork, and eventually hit the big time when it all paid off. That's not 'rogue' behaviour, that's hard work. I'd have given up. Well done to him. He deserves it.

    • by reovirus1 (722769) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:23PM (#26091615)

      At the end of the article he sums it up in his own words:

      "Here's the thing. I learned that I did my best. I mean, I really tried my best. How many people can say that? I worked hard, and I mean really hard. I worked seven days a week from 8 am until 3 am. Every day. We drilled and drilled all winter when it was dark and the windchill was 80 below. Everyone thought I was crazy. But most people just never do their best, hey. And I did."

      Sad that society today would classify this kind of individual as a "rogue".

      • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:56PM (#26092095) Homepage
        Indeed. I mean, for us Americans--isn't this the "American Dream?" Bust your ass for a risky but potentially massive payoff?
        This guy is part of a dying breed of explorers that laid the foundation of society as we know it.
        • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:50PM (#26092905) Journal

          Sort of. I'd argue that the "American Dream" is about busting your ass on something potentially risky but with a massive payoff. Busting your ass over a known risk is merely working hard and investing in lottery tickets. But, if you bust your ass on something because you believe in it (of course, assuming you're not imagining it), the only real limits should be flukishly bad luck and your willingness to work hard for the end goal. The "American Dream", then, is about the optimism in the belief that the only obstacle to success in one's life is one's willingess to pursue one's dreams. Of course, once you start with a rigged system, then hard work well likely just be idiocy. Perhaps that's the enduring reason why governmental intervention and societal-based progression is so frowned upon.

        • I thought the American dream was "get a mortgage and own property": they tried to make land-owner status accessible to everyone.

      • That's pretty inspiring. I hope he's rich from this, and it didn't get snatched away. Is he?
        • by SupplyMission (1005737) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:43PM (#26092823)

          He most certainly is rich.

          There is a darker side of the Charles Fipke story. After the Ekati diamond mine [wikipedia.org] opened up, and he set himself up with a practically infinite supply of cash, he split from his wife Marlene, who had stuck by him while he worked from 8am to 3am seven days a week, in pursuit of his dream. In many ways she was his partner, working long hours helping analyze samples in the kitchen of their tiny apartment, while they were on the verge of being evicted due to non-payment of rent. Apparently their divorce settlement was the largest ever in Canada.

          Also, right before he had his major breakthrough, he had a falling out with his long-time close friend and ally Stu Blusson, a helicopter pilot who had also worked very hard with Fipke, many times without pay.

          To be fair, I don't know if it was the success, or something else, that drove apart Fipke and his wife. Divorce and separation are never simple. Just those little details made an impression on me, to see how one can enjoy massive material success yet still suffer in personal relationships.

          Essentially, the guy is now filthy rich, surrounded by gorgeous women, doing whatever he wants. His latest project, if I'm not mistaken, is to find the biblical lost treasures of King Solomon.

          An account of the whole story, beginning with Fipke's early days growing up in the Canadian prairies in Saskatchewan, can be found in the book Fire Into Ice [amazon.ca], by Vernon Frolick. It is a very entertaining read, even if the book is somewhat biased in favour of Fipke.

        • by dschl (57168) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:53PM (#26092953) Homepage

          He recently donated $7 million [kelownadailycourier.ca] to UBC Okanagan. They asked for $5 million, but he wanted to make sure they had some of the best equipment available.

          Fipke's daughter went to the same high school as I did, graduating the year ahead of me, a few years before his diamond discoveries made him famous. Back in grade 9, half of the guys in my class had a crush on her.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Rogue may have been a bad choice of word. I just assumed that the article had meant to call him unusual, since he is that.
      • by nametaken (610866)

        I think that sort of person has generally always been the societal "kook", until they got results. I'm not sure there's a fair statement, specific to modern society, in there at all.

      • by severoon (536737) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:10PM (#26093243) Journal

        I think the defn of rogue they're using is: no longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade. Not the best word choice, but if you accept this defn and strip any negative value judgments from it, it is technically not far off.

        More to the point, though, who cares what other people say? Read his words, form your own judgments. If you do your part as the reader, then it doesn't make any difference what others want you to think...you've figured that out for yourself.

    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:26PM (#26091681)

      Americans love the cliché of "outcast made good".

      Here in North Korea we prefer the cliché of "outcast crushed by the omnipotent Party"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think that the use of the term is stupid in this case; but in this genre, it is being used as a compliment of sorts. The popular press delights in stories of the "Rogue $PERSON, scorned by $POWERS_THAT_BE, shows them what's what through hard work, dedication, a little luck, and a heartwarming moral" flavor. Sometimes, things like this actually happen; often, simple professional disagreements, differences of opinion, the usual testing and discarding of hypotheses, etc. have to be bludgeoned into this mold.
    • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:51PM (#26092025)

      Seems a little unfair to call the guy a 'rogue' or 'absent minded'. He's an intelligent bloke who applied his knowledge and intellect to a problem, spent nearly a decade doing the necessary legwork, and eventually hit the big time when it all paid off. That's not 'rogue' behaviour, that's hard work. I'd have given up. Well done to him. He deserves it.

      I agree wholeheartedly. This wasn't a get rich quick story. It was somebody who worked hard to become rich.

      The story is actually more interesting than the Wired story says. For years geologists had been finding raw diamonds in the NWT, and had been going nuts trying to find where they were coming from. The real breakthrough was realising what a kimberlite pipe would look like out in the tundra, sorting out the geology that went along with it, then examining likely sites. Many of these are now well-known names, like Ekati and Diavik.

      I too wish these folks well.

      ...laura

      • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:40PM (#26092789) Journal

        Have you ever read about how kimberlite tubes are probably formed? It sounds very exciting. [sciencedaily.com] The initial magma burst upwards is only hasty by geologic terms, but the final burst of gas and magma out of the surface of the earth is at supersonic velocities. People have claimed it's possible some of the material is moving at beyond escape velocity and gets shot into space.
        So while I'd love to discover a kimberlite tube, I'd rather it wasn't on MY property.

    • 'absent minded', might be unfair. However, 'rogue' sounds fair. He went against the common belief.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kijori (897770)

      You think you're disappointed? I read it as "rogue gynecologist".

      Once again reality has let me down.

    • by Fizzl (209397)

      Indeed. The article doesn't even mention how high hes backstabbing skill or agility score was. Could he even pick pockets?

    • by b4upoo (166390)

      It is sort of a rogue who defies the current professional opinions and hunts diamonds where supposedly none exist.
      There is a similar story of an individual convinced that he could find serious emeralds in N.Carolina. After many years of searching he hit upon a huge, high quality emerald which will provide several lifetimes of income for him.
      There remain a host of treasures to be found all around us. These days many are deposited in the earth by d

  • I think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by HexaByte (817350) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:14PM (#26091443)
    he's a shining example of some who works really hard!
  • by boristdog (133725) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:19PM (#26091563)

    Aaaaand now that we can make pretty much perfect diamonds as large as you want with a fairly inexpensive vapor deposition chamber, all this will soon be no more than a waste of money, time and energy.

    I love how the diamond industry used to derogate diamonds with flaws, but now they push them as evidence of "natural" diamonds.

    - I can add flaws to the diamonds in the vapor dep chamber, too!

    • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:27PM (#26091697) Homepage

      Heheh... I wish.

      Soon the DeBeers of the world will start touting the benefits of their diamonds versus the Canadian diamonds. Maybe the Canadian diamonds are too pure, or too northern for diamonds to grow properly.. Or maybe traces of some rare element in the DeBeers mines leads to more beautiful diamonds. Or Canadians speak funny, so their diamonds are gauche.

      It's so funny to see when an empire based on marketing slowly crumbles ...

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:00PM (#26092171) Journal
        As a service to the scumsucking cartel community, I have the following suggestion for marketing to preserve the value of natural diamonds:

        "Was your diamond worth dying for?"

        Some sort of subtle; but strategic, insinuation that (like the oh so glamorous Helen of Troy) every woman wants a war fought over her might also be in order.
      • . . . has as already become uncomfortable competition for de Beers: http://www.khulsey.com/jewelry/kh_jewelry_diamond_mines_russia.html [khulsey.com]

        I remember reading that, eventually, Russia reach a, um, "deal" with de Beers. It is in their interest, as well, to artificially inflate the price.

        But despite all this, de Beers seems to always remain de Beers.

        After all, "a monopoly is forever."

        • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:49PM (#26092901) Homepage

          Years ago aluminum was more expensive than gold. The refining process was so difficult that, though aluminum was one of the most common metals, the yield was in grams. Then someone invented a new extraction process. Aluminum suddenly became cheap.

          Carbon is not so rare. It may not happen soon, but there may be a time when common items such as ICs or even cell phones cases are made from diamonds. Instead of measuring by carat, they'll measure it by ounces or inches.

          • The "monopoly is forever" statement was meant as a wry pun on the famous de Beers "a diamond is forever" ad slogan.

            I'll buy a diamond for my girlfriend, when I know that the price has not been set by de Beers.

            Hey, maybe the canadian companies won't play ball with de Beers?

            But since mining companies are *really* hurting these days, I could imagine that all out them want to squeeze out profit.

      • by dschl (57168) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:14PM (#26093305) Homepage

        DeBeers owns a Canadian mine already, Snap Lake. The other mines are pipes, and are being mined using open pits. Snap Lake is a dyke, and they are using conventional tunneling. Way less material to move, and less disturbance of the surrounding area.

        I visited Snap Lake in 2000 to work on problems they were having with their wastewater treatment plant, before DeBeers bought Snap Lake. It was only in exploration phase, but when I arrived on site, I was given a form to sign. They are rather paranoid about theft, as the options given to me were to either sign the form and agree to be searched (up to and including a body cavity search), or take the next plane out.

        They were still only in advanced exploration phase, but I was told to not look at or pick up rocks on the ground, or to take photos without authorization. I was told that the rules would get even tighter once they hit production.

        I got up there in early August, just after black fly season ended. I was the only person who didn't have scabs all over from insect bites. There was still over 20 hours of daylight, and it was quite pretty, although it could be viewed as a bleak and barren landscape compared to the areas south of 60.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Godji (957148)
        Actually, no. DeBeers and the like diamonds will continue to be highly demanded, not despite their price, but because of their price. They will continue to be a status symbol, with their value in their price as opposed to what one got for the price.

        You got the same or better diamond, but mine was way more expensive. You are a lesser human being. Move on.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Sique (173459)

          You mean like in the old joke about the party at the Nouveau Riche's, where the host proudly presents a bottle of wine: "I got this one for $1000!", when one of the guests replies: "Idiot! I know where you can get the same wine for $1500!"

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:29PM (#26091727) Homepage

      Exactly. But diamonds ALWAYS have been price controlled and Over valued.

      Anyone that ever thought that diamonds had real value is nuts. If DeBeers did not negotiate a deal with the russians they could have easily decimated the Diamond market to the point that Cubic Zirconias would be worth more.

      Diamonds are good for industrial uses. They are retarded for jewelery as they are not rare not valuable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DeepHurtn! (773713)
        Well, diamonds can be quite pretty, so I don't know if I'd say that it's retarded to use them as jewelery. What's retarded (at the societal level) is to use them as a status symbol.
    • Aaaaand now that we can make pretty much perfect diamonds as large as you want with a fairly inexpensive vapor deposition chamber, all this will soon be no more than a waste of money, time and energy.

      Last I checked decent sized CVD diamonds were rather yellow. I'd say there's still some time before the likes of DeBeers get shut down, unfortunately.

      • by Sosarian (39969) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:42PM (#26091901) Homepage

        That's just because it's relatively cheap to produce. You can make blue, orange or natural clear as well.

        For instance D.NEA
        http://d.neadiamonds.com/ [neadiamonds.com]

        • In fact, I believe that a technique was recently developed to make it quicker and cheaper to produce large, clear artificial diamonds.
          Previously, they had to use some sort of pressure chamber, which severely limited the size of the diamonds produced, and required more time for larger stones. There's a new method that I read about roughly a month ago that uses microwaves to do the purification. Unfortunately, I can't remember the details, and I can't find a link.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I read an article recently about a new process to anneal diamonds to clarify them. They used to have to use high heat and pressure to produce clear diamonds, but now they can use microwave plasma. Since they don't have build the units to withstand high pressure, they can make them much larger at a far lower cost. Theoretically you could start producing football sized flawless diamonds. I can't find the original mainstream news article, but here's an more technical explanation of the process. http://ndnc.min

    • by AviLazar (741826) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:32PM (#26091781) Journal
      When your wife finds out you spent $5 on a perfect diamond that was made in a lab instead of by the Earths natural and loving embrace, you will find out how loving and warm your couch is...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:55PM (#26092085)

        When you only spend $5 on the diamond you can afford a warm, loving couch.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BethanyBoo (940031)
        Funny, because I've already told my boyfriend I'd prefer a moissanite stone if he ever proposes. I think I'd be more upset that he threw his money away on a diamond. (Before anyone says it, yes.. a girl on slashdot!)
        • by cparker15 (779546)

          I believe we have found a diamond in the rough.

        • by cecille (583022)
          Actually, I think the same thing. Not only because it is stupid to spend money on value-less rocks for no reason, but also because I just find them really neat. Not to mention, we're both engineers, so I find something really...I dunno...symbolic about it. Wave of the future, power of technology, all that jazz.
      • by Kaeles (971982) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:04PM (#26092229)

        When your wife finds out you spent $5 on a perfect diamond that was made in a lab instead of by the Earths natural and loving embrace, you will find out how loving and warm your couch is...

        If your wife is shallow enough to care about the price of a diamond instead of the fact that you thought enough to buy her one, you need a new wife.

      • by Kingrames (858416) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:07PM (#26092267)
        Because women can't be happy unless they know that thousands of children in Africa died in slavery to produce the expensive ring on her finger?

        How about you offer her the flawless ring, and spend the rest of the money on something else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by langelgjm (860756)

        When your wife finds out you spent $5 on a perfect diamond that was made in a lab instead of by the Earths natural and loving embrace, you will find out how loving and warm your couch is...

        That's why you tell her in advance, like I have.

        Cultured diamonds (use the fancy word "cultured", like pearls, instead of "synthetic" which just sounds like a euphemism for "fake") are guaranteed to be conflict-free, which is also attractive. Besides, you can still spend the same amount of money, and just end up with a bigger, clearer, better quality diamond than what you'd get naturally.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rastl (955935)

        Wow. I'd be wonderfully happy to receive a diamond that cost $5.00 if my husband thought the jewelry was pretty enough to buy for me. What do I care about the cost of the diamond?

        He knows I like shiny things and that I prefer fake over real, because I can get far more fake ones than real ones and I worry far less over wearing the fake ones. Most of my 'good' jewelry is kept in the safe anyway.

        I agree with the other posters. If your wife takes issue with the cost of the present then you have far worse pr

      • like an iridium or palladium or rhodium ring

        it will be many, many moons before we'll be able to synthesize these elements relatively cheaply via radioactive decay or find some relatively cheaply exploitable extraplanetary source

        meanwhile, you will have bought her something genuinely rare, valuable, and expensive, which is what a diamond ring is suppose to symbolize in a relationship as an investment

        meanwhile, diamonds are the symbols of monopoly, conflict, and falsely inflated value. which is not the symbol

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Strep (956749)
          On Rhodium, it went from over $10000/oz to under $1000 in the past 6 months...
          • that rare and valuable also implied price stability?

            i don't think gold's enormous price fluctuations have convinced people to stop buying gold

            if something is rare, its rare. no price fluxuation is going to change that fact

      • Last year my wife kept mentioning that she wanted a mother-child pendant. (Here's a photo of one, in case you don't know what it is: http://www.amazon.com/Sterling-Silver-Heart-Shaped-Pendant-Russell/dp/B000OZT53O [amazon.com] ) Trying to be a good husband, I took the hint and bought her one. It cost around $250, but I figured that it was something that she wanted. Instead, when I presented her with it, she slapped me and told me that I shouldn't have spent so much on a piece of jewelry. I think she would welcome t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        My wife is quite aware that I would NEVER purchase a diamond. She liked the look, so we decided to get a moissanite. The difference in price was a 1 month long honeymoon in Bavaria.

        What is now starting to bother me, is that I see moissanites being sold as 'almost diamonds' and at 75% of the price. The main reason I won't purchase a diamond, even a Canadian one, is that because it is the inflated prices that have allowed all the abuses to continue. Since the Canadian Diamonds are being sold at nearly an

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wurble (1430179)
      Never underestimate the marketing power of DeBeers. While eventually diamonds will be made worthless, the timeframe we are talking about here can be prolonged greatly by DeBeers' marketing department.
    • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:42PM (#26091903) Journal

      How long until carbon-neutral means depositing your factory's (or car's) exhaust as diamond?

      Actually, that would be kinda cool. Too bad DeBeers would assassinate anyone who even thought about develo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sockatume (732728)
        You forget that diamond production is an energy-intensive process. You'd have to turn the diamond production station's power suppliers' exhaust into diamonds. Then you're set, albeit a little recursively. In fact I'm about to try oh shiiiiiiiiiii-
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mrbobjoe (830606)

        Too bad DeBeers would assassinate anyone who even thought about develo
        --
        They say a learning experience is anything we survive.

        Heh, so does this not count as a learning experience for you?

    • by thue (121682) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:53PM (#26092047) Homepage

      It is not a real diamond unless a pristine natural area has been destroyed while producing it.

      Ideally the production of a real diamond should also fund child soldiers conducting a small war in Africa.

      And of course the diamond should also have been resold by a monopolistic company.

      And finally the diamond should be flawed, to show that it is "real" and "natural".

      So keep your cheap flawless manufactured diamonds for yourself. You are suppressing the good old traditional ways with soulless technology!

  • Carbon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:20PM (#26091577) Journal

    Now we can make better diamonds than nature. I suggest we use use diamonds as carbon sequestering to prevent global warming! ;)

    • by gnud (934243)
      This comment is not interesting unless it's shown that depositing carbon in diamonds from thin air will deposit more carbon than will be produced by creating the nessescary energy.
  • i don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:24PM (#26091641) Homepage Journal

    why are diamonds still considered precious?

    don't we have the technology to make them cheap?

    sure, there's all the convoluted diamond market, debeers monopoly explanations, but that's like saying no one can buy marijuana because its illegal

    if i want to get a diamond, why can't i pay $5 and go get one the size of my fist? its just carbon. that i can't do that right now, seems absurd to me, and even more absurd, that we should still be digging this stuff up and considering it valuable

    • Re:i don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by hardburn (141468) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:41PM (#26091889)

      The areas where diamonds have direct, practical use have been on artificial diamonds for a while (specifically, diamond cutting blades). It's only the jeweler's diamonds that are still natural.

      There are also some potential practical uses of diamonds that have no current use because large quantities are too expensive. Such as building materials, thermal conductors, and semiconductors.

      Until recently, most artificial diamonds had too many impurities to look good on a ring, even to an untrained eye (you'd have to be blind to not notice that your stone is distinctly yellow). Even now, making pure artificial diamonds is about the same price as digging them out of the ground. Still, the techniques are only going to get better, and I'll be dancing the streets when DeBeers goes bankrupt.

      • Yep, for right now the cost of a gem quality diamond is about the same whehter it's dug out of the ground by an 'almost-but-not-quite' slave in Africa or produced in a lab on the East coast. Of course, there is the ethical difference to examine there, and for that reason my wife will never recieve another 'natural' diamond ever again.

        And yeah, I have told her that, and she was suprisingly fine with it, enthusiastic even after I explained the moral arguments of it.

    • Re:i don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:43PM (#26091921) Journal
      Growing diamonds of nontrivial size still isn't cheap, unfortunately. Prices are falling, and size and quality are improving; but high temperature vapor deposition still consumes fair chunks of expensive machine time.

      People who are buying a couple of carats for thousands of dollars are utter morons; but diamonds as bulk material aren't really here yet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)

      why are diamonds still considered precious?

      Marketing and cultural inertia. No more, no less.

    • Re:i don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:58PM (#26092137)

      why are diamonds still considered precious?

      don't we have the technology to make them cheap?

      sure, there's all the convoluted diamond market, debeers monopoly explanations, but that's like saying no one can buy marijuana because its illegal

      if i want to get a diamond, why can't i pay $5 and go get one the size of my fist? its just carbon. that i can't do that right now, seems absurd to me, and even more absurd, that we should still be digging this stuff up and considering it valuable

      Diamonds are precious because about 70+ years of marketing by DeBeers has made popular opinion think they are valuable. All those "Diamonds are forever" type of ads you see? Marketing. And not just any diamond, they had to be big, beautiful expensive diamonds, not the cheap ones people used to buy in the early 1900's. And not only that, but marketing to convince people they need to keep buying diamonds.

      And yes, we can make them artificially - either vapor deposition, or large pressures and high temperatures, or probably a ton of other methods. Look up for industrial diamonds (they're quite useful in industry).

      It's basically all DeBeers marketing - DeBeers basically bought up all the diamond mines and established a complex network of distributors that effectively took over all cosmetic diamond sales. These diamonds were then effectively rationed to make their price go up. When some shrewd business practice causes potential losses in the value of diamonds, DeBeers puts some control that effectively disrupts the practice. (DeBeers has tried hard to quash any sort of thing that might disrupt the price of diamonds and collapse its monopoly). The price of a diamond is artificially inflated, and kept that way. And marketing ensures that you can't get away with some low-quality diamond, you must buy a nice expensive one for your significant other.

      In fact, the resale value of diamonds is quite poor, so as investments, you can do better elsewhere.

      Here's an interesting read on how DeBeers turned a relatively cheap gem into something desirable, and managed to keep tight control over production in order to keep value up.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/198202/diamond [theatlantic.com]

      • The article says that in 2007 the Canadian mines produced 17 million carats, worth $14 billion.

        That works out to $82/ct. Remember that next time you're asked to pay $5000 for a 1ct engagement rock. That is one hell of a markup.

        I guess that's what it takes to cover the expenses involved in sustaining artificial rarity.

    • Re:i don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

      by thewils (463314) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:09PM (#26092311) Journal

      why are diamonds still considered precious?

      I'll answer that one - it's because the Cartel that sells them decides on the price. That way it is maintained artificially high. If diamonds were sold for their rarity value they'd be much, much cheaper.

      Here's [nyu.edu] more on the subject (pdf link)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fprintf (82740)

        Not only does the cartel get to arrange the pricing, but the distribution network is artificially limited also. Not to be anti-semitic, but I used to work in a Jewelry store in Massachusetts, and the owner told me that you had to be Jewish in order to be in the distribution chain. He told me that the only people allowed to train to cut large stones in New York are Hasidic Jews. Once past the initial wholesale level and moving toward retail, it apparently opens up some more. In fact, I bought my wife her fir

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by speculatrix (678524)
      consider, say an Intel CPU - the fabrication plant alone costs billions, and yet when make in volume they can sell them for tens or hundreds of dollars.

      the whole point of diamonds is that they're "rare" and "special" in the minds of the buyers.

      neadiamonds synthetics are damn expensive when you consider the equipment is dirt cheap compared to a semi foundry!
  • Chapter VII (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:37PM (#26091851) Homepage

    "That in some fields of his country there are certain shining stones of several colours, whereof the Yahoos are violently fond: and when part of these stones is fixed in the earth, as it sometimes happens, they will dig with their claws for whole days to get them out; then carry them away, and hide them by heaps in their kennels; but still looking round with great caution, for fear their comrades should find out their treasure." My master said, "he could never discover the reason of this unnatural appetite, or how these stones could be of any use to a Yahoo; but now he believed it might proceed from the same principle of avarice which I had ascribed to mankind. That he had once, by way of experiment, privately removed a heap of these stones from the place where one of his Yahoos had buried it; whereupon the sordid animal, missing his treasure, by his loud lamenting brought the whole herd to the place, there miserably howled, then fell to biting and tearing the rest, began to pine away, would neither eat, nor sleep, nor work, till he ordered a servant privately to convey the stones into the same hole, and hide them as before; which, when his Yahoo had found, he presently recovered his spirits and good humour, but took good care to remove them to a better hiding place, and has ever since been a very serviceable brute."

  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:48PM (#26091993)
    In Colorado people are constantly looking for oil, gold, uranium, diamonds, etc. Few get lucky. Much of the easy stuff was found in the 19th century.

    Some new gold mines were discovered in California by petroleum geologists. They discovered buried riverbeds where placer gold concentrates using petroleum seismic sections.
  • Sure a rogue/geologist sounds pretty cool, but multi-classing is not a smart decision. You're better off just focusing all your levels in one class.
    • Maybe he wasn't a min/maxer and just wanted to roleplay.
    • by Abreu (173023)

      Nowadays its much easier!

      You just take the geologist class and then take the "sneak of shadows" feat... Then you can spend some more feats to add more rogue powers to your geologist

  • by WisdomGroup (1201805) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:21PM (#26092535) Homepage
    Fortunately, diamonds [wisdomgroup.com] will sell for ten dollars per carat in the year 2015. All of us will benefit from inexpensive, flawless diamonds. Computers will become faster and less expensive. Advanced medical equipment will become available to more people. Photovoltaic cells [wisdomgroup.com] made from diamonds will bring cheap power to the masses. What an exciting time to be alive!
    • Diamond grit, as an abrasive, is currently around $0.07/carat in bulk. It's almost all synthetic, not hard to make, and used for a wide variety of cutting tools. Synthetic diamond production is about 100x mined production. The glamour has gone out of diamond; it's now what sewer workers use on their cutting tools when they need to slice through cement pavement.

      CMU has a new process for microwave-annealing diamonds [blogs.com] to remove flaws and make colorless synthetic diamonds.

      The diamond industry (i.e. DeBeer

  • Ice Roads (Score:3, Informative)

    by rlp (11898) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:16PM (#26093335)

    The diamond mines were featured in the first season of "Ice Road Truckers". The mines get supplied with their heavy equipment a few months in mid-winter when an ice highway is maintained across frozen lakes and rivers in the region. Watching someone drive 80 tons of mining equipment over a frozen lake is an amazing thing.

  • Did anyone else read that as "John Carmack found gold in the Klondike a century earlier"? Maybe he drove one of his Ferraris at 88 mph and travelled through time to ge the gold, which he then used to buy the Ferrari?
    • by Godji (957148)
      Replying to my own post:

      After doing some research on this, it seems that he actually used the gold to buy more plutonium and go to the future, where he downloaded the Doom source code (it had been open-sourced by then), brought it back with him, and released Doom, which made him rich and famous, and thus able to buy the Ferrari.

      It all makes sense now.
  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:23PM (#26093433)

    There are enough companies that produce "industrial" diamonds for many uses. They can also produce diamonds the size of the largest found diamonds.
    And they nowadays have such a high quality, that the sole thing that lets you detect the difference, is that natural diamonds have more errors in them.

    Industrial diamonds cost next to nothing compared to natural diamonds. But De Beers & co want you to believe that natural diamonds are somewhat special, while even real natural diamonds are not that rare at all.

    If you want to buy real rare stones as a gift, buy rubies, sapphires, emeralds, opals and the like. Or naturally colored diamonds (black, red maybe?). They are fuckin' expensive. But here it's because they are really rare.

    I for one, do not buy something like that at all. There's no real value in rare stones for me, and if I don't want to sell them to someone who thinks they are valuable...

    I like to buy personal gifts. And I like to only buy gifts, if the person does not expect a gift. Otherwise it's nothing special anymore.

  • Both NPR and Wired are running stories about how nearly two decades ago, a dogged, absentminded Canadian geologist named Charles Fipke who was practically down to his last nickel when he discovered diamonds in the Northwest Territories...

    did what? there's no action clause here; they're all turned into adjective clauses about Fipke. go ahead, diagram it for me. you could just remove "who" or "when he" and it'd make perfect sense.

    on the up side, this now removes any doubt as to whether grammar on slashdot is

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