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Earth The Almighty Buck

Huge Diamond Deposits Revealed In Russia 243

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor: "'Russia has just declassified news that will shake world gem markets to their core: the discovery of a vast new diamond field containing 'trillions of carats,' enough to supply global markets for another 3,000 years. The Soviets discovered the bonanza back in the 1970s beneath a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem. They decided to keep it secret, and not to exploit it, apparently because the USSR's huge diamond operations at Mirny, in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was then a tightly controlled world market."
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Huge Diamond Deposits Revealed In Russia

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  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:28PM (#41367655) Homepage

    I remember learning about DeBeers and having this bit of information come up at some point.... lots of people in Russia dying mysterious deaths surrounding the topic of diamonds in Russia.

    Diamonds are fairly plentiful and common. That they are expensive and considered valuable is marketing... or racketeering... whatever you want to call it.

    • Collusion is the term you are looking for.

      Absolute rarity is not be the entire thing with value, though... demand is important too... and faith, apparently. Must be the same reason that diamonds harvested by poor in wartorn shitholes are more valuable than synthesised ones.

      The bismuth in your pepto-bismol is much less prevalent than silver (there is roughly twice as much bismuth as gold, and 20x as much silver as gold), yet it is considerably cheaper.

      • On second thought, maybe racketeering is (was) right at least, when de beers pressured others to enter their cartel, using their near monopoly to become even more near monopoly...

        But they ain't the only show in town anymore, and diamonds are still expensive...

  • by P-niiice ( 1703362 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:28PM (#41367665)
    please let this drop diamond prices down to what they should be and force deBeers to find other ways to earn money like flipping burgers or whatever they have where they are
    • please let this drop diamond prices down to what they should be

      And what price should they be [wikipedia.org]?

      • The price that would reflect the real supply rather than the monopoly and cartel controlled supply.

        • by zlives ( 2009072 )

          its the buyers fault as much as D-cartels... only YOU can stop diamond cartels :)

          • Problem is that as well as being shiny shiny diamond is also quite useful if you want to cut things. Which means that a large part of the diamond market is industrial.

            It doesn't help that Notch has given a new generation a love of the things. And you need a lot of diamonds for that breastplate.

          • "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." -- K (MIB)

            The cartels could be stopped, but unfortunately only through collective action. Not going to happen.

        • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:10PM (#41368217)

          Yeah it's almost like someone decided to put a funny pattern on some paper, cut it up into small rectangles, and declare it worth something. Can you imagine people accepting something like that?! A completely artificially-restricted supply of controlled by one organization! What next, they arrest people who try and print their own!?

          In seriousness, there is no value beyond consensus. Gold is not any more intrinsically valuable than diamonds (or fiat currency!); people simply agree to trade a certain amount of one thing (paper, bank balance, etc) for it. This is why people pay for BitCoins (and other virtual goods), why currency fluctuates, and in essence, how the economy works.

          (The malleability of gold and other arguments of function are entirely irrelevant; people always agree on value for some reason, from "I have too much money and I felt like it," to "I need it for my research." Reason is a constant, and one reason is not inherently better or more valid than another.)

          • Yeah it's almost like someone decided to put a funny pattern on some paper

            Almost, but actually not.

            If diamonds were the foundation of our currency then it would make sense to restrict the supply. Currencies must of necessity be scarce or they become worthless, and in the case of paper that scarcity must of necessity be artificial. That it is artificial and thus allows for overprinting and the resultant devaluation is why many (myself not among them) would much prefer a gold-backed currency. They choose gold as opposed to, say, diamonds, because gold represents actual scarcity

          • Gold is not any more intrinsically valuable than diamonds (or fiat currency!)

            Not true. Gold is a fabulous conductor and does not corrode. That makes it extremely valuable in electrical components, particularly connectors. If we could assemble all electronics with gold plated connectors the world would have a lot less shorts, fires, computer failures, etc.

            Two intrinsically interesting characteristics of diamonds are hardness and thermal conductivity.

            Can't say the same for fiat currency.

    • Sure they could get cheaper, but they'll also be larger and of better quality. The difference would be that your spouse would now demand the diamond that X amount of dollars would buy.
    • Re:Good News (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:32PM (#41368501) Homepage

      This isn't really news, Canada has large diamond depots [nrcan.gc.ca] in the far north as well. Most are in production now, we've got several others that were discovered under the permafrost as well but they're not being mined. They're even larger than the ~28million metric ton Victor Pit open mine.

  • by holmstar ( 1388267 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:30PM (#41367681)
    Reading through TFA it sounds like these are industrial quality diamonds rather than the sparkly, clear, goes on a ring type. Still a big find though.
    • Reading through TFA it sounds like these are industrial quality diamonds

      When I read the headline, my first thought was "The Bear and the Dragon in real life". This is a bit disheartening, but still... (I'm actually reading it right now, talk of a coincidence!)

    • The difference is only in marketing. One successful marketing campaign can turn industrial diamonds into gem quality diamonds.

      • Exactly. Now that you can make large diamonds cheaply with vapor deposition, things have already changed.

        Back in the old days a small defect made a diamond worth far less. Now I've seen people charge more for diamonds with small defects because "you can tell it's a natural diamond, not a man-made diamond." And even the old, worthless, yellow "honey diamonds" are commanding higher prices.

    • These aren't even proper diamonds. Apparently, it's some strange combination of a regular diamond structure with that of lonsdalite [technion.ac.il]. It has some very neat properties from industrial use perspective (up to twice the hardness of regular diamonds - think about what that means for tools), but it's not exactly "shiny".

      • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:54PM (#41368757) Journal

        To be even more specific, let me translate a quote from one of the scientists involved (source [www.ria.ru]):

        "This isn't even diamond. The hardness of this phase (lonsdalite) is 1.54 higher than that of diamond, and here we have nanometer-sized crystals of cubic diamonds and lonsdalite - it's a very viscous matrix, which is what defines the extraordinary qualities of the Popygay impactite. The proportion of lonsdalite in some of these samples is as high as 70%."

        Also, according to the same article, the market price of those crystals is estimated as $2-2.5 per carat. For comparison, jewelry-grade diamonds go for thousands of dollars per carat.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:31PM (#41367703) Homepage Journal

    Unlike Gold, or even many other gemstones which have a rarity that enhances value? Diamonds are only of spectacular value, when they achieve very large carat size, without flaws or inclusions.

    But there's a mystique , deliberately crafted, to conflate the value of a 2-carat Zales engagement ring with something like the Koh-i-noor.


    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Diamonds are only of spectacular value, when they achieve very large carat size, without flaws or inclusions

      HUGE industrial demand, compared to gold. Gold has some industrial demand, but if diamond was as cheap per pound as carbide or HSS you'd see a lot more cutting tools using it. Imagine metal cutting tools using a diamond insert instead of a carbide insert. I wonder if they'd ever wear out?

      You don't want to know how much I paid for my diamond wheel and diamond stone. Well, I'm sure gemstone quality would make it cost as much as my house instead of just as much as a (cheap) car payment for industrial diamo

      • The material holding the diamond wears out long before the diamond itself does. That's the actual tool life limit.

      • I was under the impression that small industrial diamonds, for grit and such, have been synthetic since the 50s... and fairly cheap.

        Think general electric came up with the process.

        Iron likes to eat carbon when it's hot - doesn't matter if it's coke or diamond.

      • I have no idea these days, but last time I spec'd out the purchase of carbide cutting inserts they weren't much more than $5 when sintered into your desired shape in bulk. Wouldn't the diamonds burn up pretty easily?

      • If you only have to buy one per lifetime, what's $30-50?

  • We've known about this for years. All the fucking diamonds are radioactive as hell.

    Graphite field + meteor impact = nuclear diamonds.

    • by BluBrick ( 1924 )

      We've known about this for years. All the fucking diamonds are radioactive as hell.

      That's not too hard for deBeers to to spin. "Our New-Clear(TM) diamonds don't just give her a wonderfully radiant glow, they have a glow all of their own." Hell, they could even add a fifth "C" to the classic 4 - Cut, Clarity, Colour, Carat, and now Candlepower.

  • So the USSR was financially strangled during the Cold War by low oil prices while at the same time they had these diamond deposits?

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      So the USSR was financially strangled during the Cold War by low oil prices while at the same time they had these diamond deposits?

      This was before the Canadians were shipping their rocks, so dumping diamonds on the market to implode the market would only piss off the south africans, who were on the west's sh!t list at the time for the whole apartheid thing. So if anything, dumping their diamonds would make "us" happy. Maybe not happy enough to give them oil out of the goodness of our hearts, but...

      I have no idea how to prove that the S.A. were not paying a bribe in metals to the russians to keep their diamonds off the market. That w

  • I recall reading that some time ago De Beers had conspired with GE to fix the price of industrial diamonds. I've also been told that synthetic diamonds can be produced with higher quality than most naturally occurring diamonds, but their manufacture is kept at a relative minimum to keep prices high. Although apparently De Beer's monopoly isn't what it used to be, not that it means an end to price fixing or other questionable practices.

  • Control supply and stimulate demand. The 'tradition' of a diamond engagement ring is a DeBeers invention that dates to the twenties. Also DeBeers subsidizes advertising. Jewelers can get money from DeBeers to help them place ads provided they stick to certain themes. DeBeers will even supply stock art. Something else few people realize. DeBeers is heavily invested in gold production. They own controlling interest in a lot of mines. So it is not only diamonds that have been manipulated, but gold as well. Sa
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:01PM (#41368101)

    A peer reviewed paper describing the occurrence is here (paywalled):
    The diamonds are ~0.2-0.5mm, elongate or tabular layered grains. They are sometimes colorless but often are yellow, grey, or black. Rarely there are diamonds which reach 10mm found in the alluvial gravel.

    If the deposit is as rich as the article claims it looks like an excellent source for industrial diamonds, although given how fractured they are it won't change the gem diamond market much.

  • by es330td ( 964170 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:12PM (#41368241)
    Forgive my ignorance but I thought diamond was a defined crystal lattice structure. How can it be "twice as hard" if it is a diamond? Is this another naturally occurring state of carbon that should be called something else?
  • Your monopoly is gone. New monopolists such as Monsanto and MPIAA are taking over.
  • Fiancees who reject the diamond industry!

    Yay for rejecting the marketing that every engagement needs a big sparkly rock!

  • This just makes me even more curious about why the geological community is covering up the obvious impact crater in Tennessee!

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/08/28/2217237/tennessee-crater-inches-toward-recognition [slashdot.org]

  • I was planning to move to Russia and marry a babushka and start a goat farm,

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen