February 1998

Diamonds: News


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

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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