Big Diamonds Under Big Skies

April 1998


Big Diamonds Under Big Skies

The only commercial diamond mine in the U.S. is doubling production of its historically large stones

The first and only commercial diamond mine in the U.S. had its biggest year yet -- quite literally -- in 1997 with a new line of jewelry and a monumental discovery. Little more than a year after it commenced production in summer '96, the Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine in Colorado turned up a stone this past summer that became the largest polished diamond ever cut from rough discovered in North America: a 16.87-ct. cushion-cut diamond faceted by Y & M Diamonds in New York City. The discovery far exceeded the previous record, held by the 12.4-ct. Uncle Sam diamond from Arkansas.

Unearthing the stone was an amazing event, say those present, but large diamonds are not foreign to the Kelsey Lake mine, where 25% of the production reveals diamonds that polish to 1 carat or more. "Some mines are just known for larger stones," says Howard Coopersmith of Redaurum, the Toronto-based company that operates the mine. When initially testing diamond ore at the site in 1994, Redaurum discovered a 14.2-ct. rough diamond among the test samples of large high-quality stones and later turned up rough of more than 28 carats. "It's still a young mine, so we don't know how large the stones that we find in the future will be," Coopersmith says.

So far, the diamonds have had a wonderful reception from the market. Redaurum formed an exclusive contract with Colorado Diamonds of Boulder, which has introduced a line of jewelry and handles all cutting and marketing of the mine's production. The line is carried by only six authorized distributors, all based in Colorado, but the geographical limitations aren't stopping eager retailers from snapping up the designs. "The demand has been swallowing up all of our production," says Coopersmith.

To keep up, Redaurum is making equipment upgrades to the mine to practically double production in 1998. The mine is expected to produce 2,000 carats a month this year, up from about 1,000 in 1997.

Authorized Distributors of Colorado Diamonds:

Master Goldsmiths, Boulder, CO; (303) 443-3424
Hyde Park, Denver, CO; (303) 755-3541
Weiss Jewelers, Greeley, CO; (970) 352-6580
Jewelry Emporium, Fort Collins, CO; (970) 226-5808
Megel & Graff, Colorado Springs, CO; (719) 632-2552
Armstrong Jewelers, Pueblo, CO; (719) 544-0195

by Stacey King

This 28.30-ct. rough diamond comes from Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine in Colorado.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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