STRIKING VENEZUELA'S FANCIES
Gem expert Ted Themelis visited Venezuela's diamond regions. Professional
Jeweler brings you a summarized report
Venezuela's diamond localities span almost half its territory, creeping
into Guyana along the Escudo de Guyana, or the Guyana Shield, where they
lie in disputed territory between Guyana and Venezuela. The sector stretches
south to the Brazilian border from the northern banks of the Orinoco River
and west to the Colombian border.
Venezuela's diamonds have never been mined at a primary source, such
as a kimberlite pipe. Instead, they are found in eluvial or alluvial deposits
- deposits caused by wind, water and rain erosion. Geologists only recently
found indications of primary kimberlite pipes, though Venezuela doesn't
seem to care about the finds.
Most mining is in search of gold, and diamonds are a gratifying byproduct.
Diamonds are now sold through the Ministry of Mines and marketed through
a network of licensed buyers/dealers. Almost all diamonds are sold to markets
in Belgium and Holland.
Prospects for the Venezuelan fancy colored diamond market are good. Themelis
points to a stable political situation and positive attention from the government
as encouraging indicators, as is the breadth of product. Themelis reports
reddish, brown-reddish, pink, blue, blue-green, green, yellow-green and
black diamonds. Technological advances in geological research, machinery
and equipment will help bring these goods to market.
Though no up-to-date statistics exist, a 1980 chart produced by the Venezuelan
Ministry of Mines says that between 1971 and 1978, over 6.2 million carats
were mined, up from the 1.5 million mined during the previous decade.
The numbers may not be in yet, but Venezuela could stack up as a major
silent partner in the production of diamonds. It already has some major
finds, including a 154-ct. diamond crystal known as "El Libertador."
The crystal was sold in the 1940s for $63,000 to Harry Winston and cut into
a 40-ct. flawless gem and two satellites of 18 carats and 12 carats.
- by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Editor's note: For more detail and the full text, go to Themelis' Web
site at ganoksin.com/gemlab.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.