Department Of Defense Researching Diamond Properties

Department of Defense seal

The Naval Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense may seem unlikely places to conduct diamond research, but that’s exactly what’s happening. The National Research Laboratory (NRL) has conducted research of the “chemical vapor deposition” in diamonds as it relates to Department of Defense technologies since 1987. And now, the NRL has partnered with the Smithsonian to more fully understand the properties that make up natural colored diamonds.

Many rare colored diamonds are on loan to the Smithsonian, which has granted access to the NRL. The defects and impurities of the colored diamonds lend them their color and are of primary interest to NRL and the Smithsonian as well as the Department of Defense. Among the more famous diamonds being scrutinized are the “Hope” and “Blue Heart” diamonds and 240 fancy colored diamonds from the Aurora Butterfly collection.”Understanding these unique colored natural diamonds provides knowledge useful to both technologists and gemologists,” said NRL researcher James Butler. “A better understanding of these defects and impurities allows us to tailor the materials properties of diamond materials: from electrically insulating to semiconducting; from optically transparent to a variety of colors; or to provide the isolated quantum states for quantum cryptography or quantum computing.”

The researchers are also focusing on rare pink diamonds. The cause for the pink color, it has been determined, is “contained in narrow colored lamellae in an otherwise clear matrix of diamond.” Researchers hope to use their deeper understanding of colored diamonds to assist in new technologies for the Department of Defense.

Indian Family Held Hostage In Diamond Heist

The family of a wealthy Indian diamond dealer was recently held hostage as robbers demanded millions in diamonds. Pankaj Maldar, of Antwerp, Belgium, came home March 8 to find his wife and teenage children held at gunpoint. The robbers demanded that Maldar return to his office at Karp Imex, NV, a diamond company, and return with the entire contents of his safe within the hour. They threatened to bomb the house and family if Maldar did not do as instructed during the heist.

Diamond heist

There are approximately 14,000 Indians living in Belgium, over a third of which are involved in the diamond industry. Individuals within this Indian population fear for their safety. “People are very afraid,” said an unidentified source. The diamonds stolen during the heist are valued at between $5 and $10 million, based on conflicting reports. Also in question are the ethnicity and motive of the robbers. Some reports claim they were Italian, others Turkish. Regardless of ancestry or reason, the gang appeared to be familiar with the contents of Maldar’s safe. Representatives of the Indian community are reported to have consulted with their embassy in Belgium to address the safety issue. “We are also seeking meetings with the Justice Minister and the police commissioner,” said a community spokesman.

Gem Diamonds Company Recovers Profitability


Gem Diamonds, a diamond mining company, has recovered profitability from its stint in the red due to the struggling economy. The company reported a net loss of $55.2. million in 2008, but it reports a net profit of $25.4 million for 2009.

“2009 was an extremely challenging year for the diamond industry as a whole,” said Clifford Elphick, Gem Diamonds chief executive officer. “However, our ability to react swiftly to changing market conditions enabled us to weather the worst of the economic crisis and maintain production and profitability at our two key operations.” Those operations, the Letseng mine in Lesotho, and Ellendale mine, provided rough diamond sales that bolstered the company’s bottom line. They put all other locations on “care and maintenance” and severely cut corporate expenses by an impressive 33 percent.

Other factors assisting in Gem Diamonds’ recovery include a one-time royalty payment and sales of 206.6 carats of polished diamonds totaling $12.5 million. Their Letseng mine provided 700 diamonds of 10.8 carats or more. Sixty-eight of those stones sold for $20,000 per carat.

“The fact that 33 of these 68 diamonds were sold in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone is testimony to the remarkable increase in the prices of large diamonds toward the end of 2009,” said a Gem Diamonds representative.

Russian Diamond Producer Partners With Indian Cutting Companies

Rough diamonds from Alrosa's mine

Russian and Indian diamond industry members have partnered together to export and cut diamonds in a lucrative deal. Alrosa, a Russian diamond producer, enlisted the help of Rosy Blue, Diamond India and Ratilal Becharlal and Sons. The three Indian entities, all diamond cutters, will have access to Alrosa’s supply of raw diamonds valued at more than $490 million, according to current market prices. The company released this information in a recent press release, signifying a significant step forward in the highly successful Indian and Russian gem markets.

The contract stipulates that Russian exported diamonds will be adjusted in price according to quarterly reviews of the international diamond market. Also included in the contract negotiations were eventual increases in the supply of raw diamonds through Alrosa. This increase is not gauranteed, but highly probably should the partnership be successful.

Alrosa’s track record with Indian diamond cutting companies sparkles with success. The prolific diamond producer sold diamonds valued at over $500 million to Indian cutting companies in 2009 alone, nearly half of their total exports. In addition, Alrosa accounts for nearly 25 percent of the total global diamond output.

“ALROSA Company Limited is one of the world’s leading companies in the field of diamond exploration, mining and sales of rough diamonds, and diamond manufacture. ALROSA accounts for 97% of all Russia’s diamond production,”says the company’s website.

Diamond-Encrusted Apple iPad Released For Luxury Electronics Market

Diamond-inlaid Apple iPad

It’s not enough to own a coveted piece of personal technology. It’s not enough to boast about being one of the few, early owners of a particularly long-awaited item. No, just owning the new Apple iPad is not enough to give you water-cooler-conversation swagger. Now, unless you have the new diamond-encrusted iPad, you’re just another regular Steve.

The new iPad has barely hit store shelves, and Mervis Diamond Importers have upped the “cool factor” ante. They’ve given the new iPad a ridiculous 11.43 karats of diamond mojo. The diamond-specked iPad will retail for a whopping $19,999 when it becomes available for purchase on June 1.

“This gorgeous diamond studded iPad features 11.43 carats of diamonds, hand-set in a micro-pave styling,” says the company’s website “The diamonds are graded G/H in color and VS2/SI1 in clarity. The iPad features 64 GB of memory and is 3G enabled.”

You can surf the Internet, Skype your friends and Google to your heart’s content while being blinded by the ostentatious iPad frame.

The Mervis website assures you that “Every Mervis diamond has been hand-selected by Zed Mervis, a world-class diamond buyer.” So it would appear that good ol’ Zed fancies himself an Apple fan.

So if you’re in the market for something that will make all your techno-geek, flamboyantly gaudy friends cry in to their plain old Blackberry keypads, order yourself one of these sparkly gadgets. Be warned – when you try to bring it in for warranty repairs after you’ve dropped it on the floor, it is doubtful that the pimply-faced geek at the Apple store would have any compassion on you.


De Beers Diamond Route Offers Rare Views To Tourists

View from the Diamond Route

De Beers diamond miners cull South Africa’s soil for the finest diamonds on earth. Now, they offer a glimpse in to the world of diamonds and the deep culture and history of South Africa. The story of diamond mining in South Africa has been opened to eco-travelers and explorers through The Diamond Route. Tourists have access to more than 600,000 acres of private land owned by De Beers and the Oppenheimer family. These two entities partnered together to open the Route, a nature preserve made up of nine different mining sites located on private land. The purpose of the Route is to educate, inform and inspire visitors to respect and protect natural resources.

“The Diamond Route is the epitome of passion in action,” says The Diamond Route’s website, “The Diamond Route is the culmination of years of dedication and commitment to this field.”

The Route covers a vast swath of land, stretching from the Namaqualand diamond coast site in west South Africa to east Kimberly, the Dronfield and Rooipoort nature reserves, and up to the Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg, among other sites, according to the website. Travelers are taken on tours by trained bird guides and cultural guides. Patrons can also hike the preserves, experience off-road trails and newly-upgraded facilities.

“Together, we will make a lasting contribution to conversation and enhance environmental awareness in communities in the areas in which we operate, illustrating the good that diamonds can do,” said Rob Smart, Diamond Route chairperson.

Super Bowl Champs Win Title, Glory and Diamonds

The New Orleans Saints charged towards victory Sunday in Super Bowl 44. They also charged their way to a piece of coveted, diamond-encrusted jewelry: the Super Bowl championship ring.

The Super Bowl ring, created specifically for each winning team, can be quite extravagant in its design. It usually includes a diamond in the shape of a football, or the Vince Lombardi trophy (a statuette topped with a football); but that’s just the beginning. Made of white or yellow gold, the ring also includes the Super Bowl and NFL logos, and is personalized with the player’s name, jersey number and team name.

Steelers Super Bowl Ring

The Steelers Superbowl ring

The NFL has certain design guidelines, but each team creates a ring that is unique. The team contributes their own design  ideas on top of the usual features, and this is where the ring becomes gaudy, ostentatious and just plain over-the-top. For instance, 2009 Super Bowl victors, the Pittsburgh Steelers, created a ring with a whopping 63 diamonds. The Super Bowl 24 ring awarded to the San Francisco 49ers tops the charts with three .35-carat marquis-cut diamonds and one 0.75-carat diamond set in a football-shaped white gold insert, surrounded by diamonds.

The NFL foots the bill for the Super Bowl ring which is usually priced around $5,000 each, depending on the current cost of diamonds and gold, up to a quantity of 150. In case you’re confused by the math, the quantity of rings covers not only the players, but coaches, trainers, executives  and anyone else the team decides to honor with a ring.

The Super Bowl rings are usually made by Balfour or Jostens, with the latter having created the diamond-rich ring for the 2009 winners.

So here’s to the Saints who will be adding quite a bit of sparkle to their victory march.