On June 12 2021 a glimmer of hope lit up Velile’s eyes. She heard about a cattle herder Phoka Mofokeng who found diamonds in KwaZulu Natal, just 5 hours drive from her home town Johannesburg/South Africa. It took her about one hour to pack her belongings and her family, together with shovels and picks, to go to that paradise. To start digging for diamonds and dreaming about a future for her family.
You have to dream to get a future
Live in South Africa and especially in Johannesburg is hard. There is a lot of unemployment and therefore poverty. People try to survive by stealing or drug dealing and there is huge criminality. Velile knows her situation, living in a small and inadequate house with 4 daughters and no husband in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic. And she thinks that ‘wishful thinking is better than remaining in poverty’. So she starts her adventure by digging for diamonds, that will bring her the money she needs.
The adventure digging for diamonds
At the back of a pick-up truck to the hamlet KwaHlathi, where the cattle herder has found his diamonds she dreams about her future. She wants to emigrate to Dubai, buy a two-story house and send her girl to a private school. Velile knows that South Africa is very rich in diamonds, gold, and other sources, that are – until now- not reachable for her.
The Beers diamonds
The firm De Beers owns the mining- and selling rights of nearly all the diamonds in Africa. They are so powerful that when the Covid-19 pandemic was on and the diamonds were not sold anymore, he stopped the diamond auctions, to control the price of the diamonds. 8% of the total South African workers live from digging for diamonds and stopping that work means a disaster for a lot of people. But the Beers is high and mighty and can afford to do this.
‘diamonds’ sized like a ping pong ball
Velile and her family are not the only people going digging for diamonds. More than 3000 people, mostly from Johannesburg and its surroundings traveled to KawHlathi to look for a better future. In one week’s time, they have plowed more than 50 hectares and went one meter deep digging for diamonds. And they found transparent pieces of quartz, that they assumed they found diamonds. And big diamonds, diamonds in the size of a ping pong ball.
Those people and Velile too were euphoric, finding so many beautifully shining stones, and all are their property. They were rich. But there was a very big but….
No diamond area
Geologists already stated that in KwaZulu Natal, and certainly in the surroundings of KwaHlathi there are no diamonds, no alluvial diamonds, no diamond veins, and digging for diamonds has no chance of any success. Besides, that rough diamonds look like black stones and not like shining transparent stones.
Keep on dreaming
But Velile and her daughters can not afford to believe the geologists. Besides that she heard about the discovery of the Cullinan, the largest diamond in the world, weighing more than 3 carats. That diamond was found in 1905 by an ordinary man using a pocket knife. So why could not she be just as lucky and find a diamond, that -just like the Cullinan- she could sell to the Queen of England, to set in her crown. If you are poor like Velile the only wealth is in your dreams.
After a week of hard digging for diamonds and moving a tremendous amount of soil, finding enough shiny stones to keep on dreaming, the South African government announced that specialists examined the stones and they found out that the ‘diamonds’ were quartz crystals, the most common mineral in the world.
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
The dream of Velile and her daughters exploded. And the only thing they could do is returning home without a penny earned. And hopefully, this diamond run was not a spreaders event of Covid-19. But she will still, also after this experience, try to get a decent future for her daughters, maybe not with digging for diamonds, but chasing another dream and better finding work, somewhere, somehow. Singing the song of Ladysmith Black Mambo and Paul Simon ‘diamonds on the soles of her shoes’.
This story was breaking news in June 2021. The difference between the people digging for diamonds, without knowing what they are looking for and the large mining company De Beers is striking. Although there are true stories about finding large and expensive diamonds by ordinary people, they became rather rich.
I say ‘rather rich’ because finding diamonds looking like black stones is one thing, but turning that diamond into a beautiful faceted full of luster diamond is another thing. Experts in Antwerp/Belgium, and Amsterdam/The Netherlands work hours and hours to accomplish that result. And the profit has to be shared by the founder, the intermediates, the cutters, and the sellers.
The diamond is the birthstone of April. If you want to know more about the diamond and all the other birthstones and some well-known gemstones, ask for my free PDF, where you can find all the information you need. Just let me know where I can send it to.
Hug, Florence from FlorenceJewelshop
PS. Translated and shortened Dutch newspaper article (June 7, 2021):
In the Covid-19 pandemic, people did not spend their money on diamonds. Diamant producer De Beers stopped the diamond auctions to stabilize the diamond stock.
The present growth of the Western economies and the risen demand for diamonds made De Beers increase prices for rough diamonds by 10%. And after the cutters and the polishers in India, Antwerp/Belgium, and Amsterdam/The Netherlands finish their job the value of the diamonds will rise by at least 20%.