Since the middle of the nineteenth century, South Africa has been at the heart of the world’s diamond industry. The country has produced some of the world’s largest, most beautiful and most valuable diamonds, and enough of them to bring them into the hands of individuals and families searching for a symbol of eternity.
Owning a diamond from South Africa is like owning a piece of history, a piece of heritage, and a piece of provenance. OriginSA diamonds embody this legacy. Ours are certified South African diamonds that have been extracted from established and responsible South African mines, processed by South African manufacturers, and cut and polished by expert South African artisans. At every step, our ethically sourced, conflict-free diamonds pass through South African hands, and benefit South African individuals and communities.
The OriginSA brand is a mark of authenticity. It is a minute, indelible symbol that is laser inscribed onto the girdle of the South African diamonds that we cut, polish and deliver to you. Invisible to the naked eye, the brand can only be seen through a microscope or a loupe with a magnification of 10 or more. But it’s there as a symbol of perfection, pride and provenance.
The qualities of a diamond – its hardness, its durability – have made it symbolic of timelessness. Achieving this status was a direct result of the diamonds that the South Africa industry made available to a wider market.
But South Africa will not be able to produce diamonds forever. Its mines, although they continue to extract a significant portion of the world’s diamonds, have their closures in sight. There will come a time when all of South Africa’s diamonds will have been mined, and the opportunity to possess this piece of provenance will have passed.
This ascribes even more value to an OriginSA diamond – a value beyond currency. Holding one in the palm of your hand situates you in a particular time in history, making you part of both a past legacy and an enduring future. An OriginSA diamond redefines our understanding of forever.
Almost all of our OriginSA diamonds are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as triple excellent diamonds. This means that they have scored an excellent rating in terms of polish, symmetry and cut, and are regarded as the pinnacle of quality diamonds.
This excellent rating is further enhanced by the OriginSA stamp, which signifies that your diamond is both of exceptional quality and is also an authentic and verified South African asset.
Your OriginSA diamond will come to you with an official GIA certificate, upon which the diamond’s scoring and OriginSA status will be carefully provided. OriginSA diamonds are available in any size of your choice.
Erasmus Jacobs was just a 15-year-old boy when he picked up a small transparent rock on the banks of the Orange River, near Hopetown, in what is today’s South Africa’s Northern Cape. The year was 1867 and South Africa at the time was a land of scattered settlements, occasional farms and endless veld, with a simple and meagre economy. Erasmus’s discovery changed everything.
As the stone passed from the boy to his parents to a neighbouring farmer to the civil commissioner in Colesberg and finally to an amateur geologist in Grahamstown (who received it by ordinary mail), interest in it grew. It was this amateur geologist, W. G. Atherstone, who declared Erasmus’s rock a diamond. Weighing in at 21.25 carats, it was named the Eureka Diamond, and sold to the governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Phillip Wodehouse, for £500.
The discovery of the Eureka quickly sparked a diamond frenzy as prospectors rushed to the region. The town of Kimberley grew out of the dust, and with such urgency that it became the first town in the southern hemisphere (and only the second in the world, after Philadelphia) to install electric streetlights, which it did in 1882.
Within a couple of years of the first discovery of diamonds, alluvial diggings (those conducted in riverbeds) yielded hundreds more. These numbers rose rapidly, and between 1868 and 1888 South Africa’s diamond exports increased from to 200 carats to 3.8 million carats a year. In the 1870s and 1880s, the areas in and around Kimberley were producing 95% of the world’s diamonds.
The discovery of diamonds – and the subsequent discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 – forever altered the fate of South Africa.
Where, in the mid-nineteenth century, the country seemed destined to live out its years as an agricultural backwater, diamonds, gold and other mineral resources established it as an industrialised economic powerhouse. The mining industry led to the establishment of many other industries necessary to support it, including construction, engineering, finance, health, telecommunications and transport. It started to employ hundreds, and then thousands and then hundreds of thousands of people. Today, the South African mining industry directly employs more 450,000 people, and more than 10 times this number indirectly.
South Africa remains one of the world’s most resource-rich countries today and, despite more than 150 years of diamond mining, continues to rank as one of the top diamond-producing nations globally. But the Kimberley diamond rush not only transformed South Africa, it fundamentally changed the diamond industry worldwide.
Although diamonds had been mined in India for millennia, and were discovered in Brazil in 1795, the world had never before seen the sheer quantities that were found in South Africa. This meant that, where once diamonds had been so rare and so expensive as to only be available to royalty and the aristocracy, the influx of South African diamonds into the market brought the price down considerably. For the first time, this precious gemstone was accessible to the middle class and, in time, became a symbol of eternity.
Among the countless diamonds that South Africa has produced over the past 150 years, some of the most famous diamonds in history can be counted. These range from diamonds of extraordinary weight to diamonds of exceptional quality.
The original 21.25-carat Eureka diamond that Erasmus Jacobs’ discovered in 1867 was eventually cut into two diamonds. One of the two, a 10.73-carat diamond, now sits on display at the Kimberley Mine Museum.
With a rough weight of 3,196 carats, the Cullinan is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found. In its original form, it was roughly the size of an adult fist. It was discovered in at the Premier Mine in Cullinan in January 1905 and was transported to the United Kingdom a few months later, in April. Although it was rumoured to be aboard a steamboat (and indeed a parcel was locked away in the captain’s safe and closely guarded), the original was in fact sent in a plain box via registered post. The stone was cut into nine major stones and 96 minor brilliant-cut stones.
Set in the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, which is housed with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, the Cullinan I, or the Great Star of Africa, is the largest cut diamond in the world. It was cut from the original Cullinan to produce a 530.4-carat, pear-shaped stone with 74 facets. The Cullinan was cut by renowned Dutch diamond artisan Joseph Asscher, who examined the stone for six months before deciding how to cut it.
In 1893, a South African mineworker picked out a high-clarity, blue-white stone out of a shovel full of gravel at Jagersfontein Mine. The stone, weighing 995.2 carats, is the second largest stone ever found, and was cut into 21 polished stones, 10 larger and 11 smaller.
In 1986, the X-ray recovery system at Premier Mine picked up a diamond that looked like an irregular matchbox with angular planes. It was both internally and externally flawless. The original was 599 carats, but it was ultimately cut into a 273.85-carat diamond that became known for its many facets: 164 on the stone and 83 on the girdle. The Centenary Diamond is hailed as the world’s second largest, modern-cut flawless diamond.