Natural diamonds are one of the oldest and rarest of nature’s treasures you can own. Formed through intense heat and pressure in the earth’s mantle between 720 million and 3.5 billion years ago, they are older than some of the stars in the sky. Nature only has a limited supply, and larger diamonds are particularly rare - the annual recovery of diamonds larger than five carats would fill a basketball. Inherently rare and precious with an enduring value, diamonds are an irreplaceable symbol to mark life’s most significant moments.
Natural diamonds also confer other values. The natural diamond industry generates $16 billion in net socioeconomic and environmental benefits annually, 60% of which are retained locally and benefiting communities directly and indirectly.
The 50-50 mining joint venture between De Beers and the people of Botswana has helped transform the country, which registered one of the world’s fasted economic growth rates since its independence 50 years ago. 81 cents of every dollar of revenue generated by Debswana (the joint venture) goes back to Botswana, through taxes, royalties and dividends. As a result of this and the other contributions of De Beers Group’s partnership with the country, diamonds contribute up to one third of Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). When De Beers Group started operating in Botswana in 1966 there were only six miles of roads, compared to nearly 7,000 miles today. Every child receives free schooling to the age of 13 and there are now more than 300 secondary schools compared with just three in 1966. Beyond primary school, education is 95% funded by the government.
Lab grown diamonds on the other hand, are factory-made, typically produced in a matter of weeks. Because they are mass-produced in batches, they are neither rare nor unique, so they don’t possess the enduring value of natural diamonds. While LGDs look like natural diamonds, they have very distinct growth patterns which enables them to be detected by trained gemologists and sophisticated equipment.
Looking to the future, De Beers is committed to creating a positive lasting legacy that will endure well beyond the recovery of its last diamond. This commitment is called Building Forever, and it contains four pillars, one of which is focused on Partnering for Thriving Communities. The vision for this pillar is to be a catalyst for a step change in skills, health and livelihoods to enable community resilience and a diversified economy in its host countries. You can learn more about De Beers’ ongoing Building Forever initiatives.