Spotlight on Canadian Diamonds


Although the possibility of diamond sources in Canada have been suggested since 1899, Canadian diamond discovery and operations are fairly recent compared to those in other parts of the world, such as Russia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Australia.


Thanks to two geologists, Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson, the story of Canadian diamond mining began in 1991. In 2018, Canada was the world’s third largest producer of diamonds by value and by volume. Canadian diamond production is currently valued at over US$2 billion annually.

stacked rough diamonds


Why choose a Canadian Diamond?

  • they are produced in an environmentally responsible way

  • they do not fund conflict or terrorism

  • Canadian diamond operations follow fair labour laws, especially in respect to indigenous people

  • Canadian government makes sure that after the lifespan of the mines expires, the mining companies restore the habitat to its original state

  • the stones can be tracked from mine through manufacturing, wholesaling and to the retail consumer

  • typically inscribed with a maple leaf logo or other symbols associated with Canada, accompanied with a serial number laser inscribed on the diamond’s girdle

  • by choosing a Canadian diamond you are supporting local economy and local communities


Round Canadian diamond with maple leaf and serial number laser inscription on girdle

Let’s take a closer look at the famous Canadian diamond mines.

The two main mines located 300km north-east of Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories are:


Ekati

  • named after the Tlicho word meaning “fat lake”

  • Canada’s first surface and underground diamond mine

  • officially opened in 1998 by BHP Billiton, Canada, Inc

  • known for premium, high quality diamonds

  • largest gem-quality diamond produced by this mine - 186 carat, 2016

  • kimberlite pipes (vertical underground structures containing diamonds) similar to those of South Africa and Russia

  • accessed via a 500km seasonal ice road, which is rebuilt every year

  • the only alternative access is by air from Yellowknife

  • current mine life estimated to end in 2034

  • new exploration projects plan to extend mine life until 2042


Ekati open-pit diamond mine in Northwest Territories Canada

Here's the latest news!

In early 2020, the owner of Ekati Mine - Dominion Diamond Mines, declared bankruptcy, following financial problems. Dominion made a preliminary agreement to sell the mine back to Washington Companies. On October 9th, an announcement was made, that a proposed $166 million dollar sale of the mine to affiliates of the Washington Companies is now off. Stay tuned!



Diavik

  • production began in 2003

  • largest diamond mine in terms of carat production

  • regarded as one of the most valuable diamond mines in the world

  • 187 carat diamond mined in 2015, named the Foxfire

  • 552 carat yellow diamond found in 2018, largest diamond mined in North America

  • operations estimated until 2025


552 carat Canadian yellow diamond found in Diavik mine in 2018 resting on iphone


Other Canadian diamond mines include:


  • Jericho Mine, first mine in Nunavut

  • Snap Lake Mine, Northwest Territories, Canada's first completely underground diamond mine. The mine is owned by DeBeers, their first mining operation outside of Africa. Unfortunately, the mine was plagued by constant flooding problems, and is no longer operational

  • Victor Mine, James Bay Lowlands, first mine in Ontario. Open-pit mine owned by De Beers. Operations lasted between 2008-2019 and exceeded its anticipated production by over 2 million carats

  • Gahcho Kué Mine, 280km northeast of Yellowknife, a joint venture between Mountain Province Diamonds and De Beers Canada. Life span expectancy 2016-2028

  • Renard Mine, first diamond mine in Quebec. The project is 100% owned by the Stornoway Diamond Corporation


Progression from rough to polished diamond

Sadly, diamond mining in Canada comes with a variety of challenges. Harsh climate, remote location and inaccessibility of the Northwest Territories creates logistical problems. Exploration there is only possible between May and September. Furthermore, as the open-pit mines are being depleted, future diamond mining will require more expensive, underground mining, which costs about 50% more.

But no fear! The exploration of new Canadian deposits continue!


Vehicle on ice road to Ekati diamond mine in Northwest Territories Canada

On a personal note, my career in the jewellery and gemstone industry began at a Canadian Diamond Wholesale company. It was there that I discovered my passion for diamonds, gemstones and jewellery. I embarked on a journey to study gemology with the GIA and received my Graduate Gemologist diploma. Having called Canada home for over ten years, I am proud to own a Canadian diamond.


Wish to own a Canadian Diamond of your own? Tsarina Gems will be excited to help you chose one you will love! Diamonds are perfect for engagement rings, right hand rings, pendants and earrings of all shapes and sizes. How about this stunning anniversary band featuring FIVE Canadian Diamonds?

Five stone anniversary band with five round Canadian diamonds set in white gold

Visit Tsarina Gems Gallery for design ideas and our Instagram page for more jewellery inspiration instagram.com/tsarinagems