All our polished diamonds originate from Russia. ALROSA mines rough diamonds from 11 kimberlite pipes and 16 placer deposits. Two of these pipes are located in Arkhangelsk Oblast—in the Northwest part of Russia. The rest of the deposits are located in Yakutia in the Northern part of Siberia.
Yakutia is a unique region right next to the polar circle, known for its winters that last for six months, and low temperatures down as far as -60oC. The area of Yakutia is 5 times the size of France, or equal to the size of India. However, the population of India is one thousand times higher than that of Yakutia.
This land is so rich in precious stones that there is even a legend about them. They say that a very long time ago, a God was flying above the earth and scattered wealth evenly from his sack. But whilst he was flying over Yakutia his hands froze, and he dropped the entire sack onto the ground.
Arkhangelsk Oblast is the Northernmost point of Europe, and a unique region known for its coloured rough diamonds as well as its auroras.
All these phenomena are described in fairy tales. For instance, they describe how people collected and dried auroras and then used them at home instead of candles. Or, when women sang songs in winter, they became frozen by the cold and fell onto the ground as precious stones, and those which were particularly tall and gorgeous turned to necklaces.
Rough diamonds were born deep inside the Earth hundreds of millions years ago. They are older than mankind by a hundredfold; they are even older than the dinosaurs. Under enormous pressure, at great temperature, carbon atoms formed the crystals of rough diamonds, and eruptions of old volcanoes lifted them close to the earth surface where people could find them. The history of ALROSA dates back to 1954, when two women geologists found the first diamond field in the far Northern region of Yakutia. It was named Zarnitsa, because the diamond ore contained small red stones—pyropes—companions of rough diamonds in kimberlite pipes (Zarnitsa originates from the Russian word ‘zaria’ meaning ‘dawn’).
Nowadays, once a rough diamond comes from the ore to daylight, we assign a unique ID to it and we can track precisely the time when and where the deposit was mined. The rough diamond details continue to be passed on throughout the manufacturing process.
In Search of a Rough Diamond
We mine rough diamonds in open pits, underground mines and placer fields. A pit is probably the most common way of mining one can imagine. It resembles a huge funnel in the ground, where trucks drive back and forth. Every pit is an extremely complex engineering structure, where every inch is carefully measured. Excavators and large dump trucks remove diamond ore from the pit bottom, gradually making it deeper and deeper.
When a diamond pit grows very deep, and the interior continues to store lots of rough diamonds, companies usually construct underground mines. ALROSA has three of them; each of them is unique and has no analogues in terms of their conditions. A mine is a whole small town under the ground, where special vehicles and even trains move. People work in the underground mine, but there are no manual operations there: people operate all those machines remotely.
Placer fields in Yakutia appeared in those places where time damaged a diamond deposit and scattered the diamond ore either along the bottom of a river, or near it. However, the ore remained unchanged—solid and rigid. Therefore, at placers, the ore is collected either by excavators, or by dedicated dredger ships.
A Birth of a Polished Diamond
A rough diamond in its original form bears no resemblance to the beautiful shining polished diamond you buy from a store. Its potential is revealed only through the skills of a cutter. ALROSA is currently the only mining company with its own diamond-cutting facilities. We cut only our own rough diamonds and never third-party ones. Thus, we are able to warrant the origin of the stone and the fact that it was created in line with the best corporate sustainability practices. The stone undergoes initial evaluation, and further scanning where experts reproduce a 3D model of the diamond and do the calculations to ensure the best cut. After the calculations are done, the rough diamond is sawed by a laser beam into several pieces; each piece is then sent to the cutters to become a unique high-quality polished diamond. Creating a polished diamond is a lengthy process that may take several months. That is the price we must pay, to achieve perfect proportions and luster.
Future Fate of a Polished Diamond
Although a rough diamond can be divided into several parts for cutting, we still know from which stone every polished diamond was made. And at the same time, we can easily track how many and which polished diamonds were made from this very rough diamond. We can monitor the entire process from the deposit to a polished diamond, and be sure that the stone was not replaced or damaged at any stage. This is why we say that the origin of our polished diamonds can indeed be guaranteed.
We sell both mined rough, and polished, diamonds to our partners—carefully preselected large companies, which guarantee compliance with human rights and corporate sustainability principles. At the retail end of the business, polished diamonds receive the required certification in gemmological laboratories and have a certificate specifying their individual characteristics.
Only a polished diamond with a flawless history deserves to shine as jewellery, and become a part of someone’s life representing a symbol of something truly important.
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