The Williamson diamond mine, also known as the Mwadui mine, is a diamond mine in Tanzania. It was well-known as the first diamond mine outside of Africa. This mine was established by Dr. John Williamson of Canada in 1940. It has produced 19 million carats of diamonds since its inception. The mine is currently 75% owned by Petra Diamonds and 25% by the Tanzanian government.
The mine is currently 300 feet deep, employs 1100 people and is considered the “largest economically exploitable diamond-bearing volcanic pipe in the world”.
Currently, the mine produces six carats of diamonds per hundred tons of ore. At the beginning, the mine produced sixty-two carats per hundred tons. A 54 carat flawless pink diamond was found at the Williamson Diamond mine.
In 1938, Dr. Williamson used the Mabuki diamond mine as his base for prospecting diamonds in the area. By the 1950’s, the Williamson diamond mine expanded into the largest diamond mine in Tanzania with a large labor force and state-of-the-art mining equipment. He managed the mine until his death in 1958 at the age of 50.
On August 13, 1958, Williamson’s heirs sold the mine for 4 million GBP in an equal partnership between DeBeers and the government of Tanganyika.
In 1971, “the government nationalized the mine”. It was not as productive in the 1980’s under the government leadership.
In 1994, DeBeers bought 75% of the Williamson mine. Today, the mine is considered a “marginal performer” but DeBeers has found some avenues for development which will make the mine viable well into the future.
Bulgari, also known as Bvlgari, is recognized for their luxury watches, handbags, fragrances, cosmetics, accessories and hotels.
Bulgari was founded in 1884 by Sotirios Voulgaris in his home village of Epirus, Greece where his first store can still be seen.
In 1877, Voulgaris moved to Corfu then to Naples and in 1881, he finally moved to Rome.
In 1884, Voulgaris opened his second store in via Sistina.
In 1905, the flagship store in via dei Condotti was opened by Bulgari with his two sons, Costanino (1889-1973) and Giorgio (1890-1966). The store was known for their unique luxury jewelry designs founded in Greek and Roman art and was frequented by the rich and famous.
During World War II, Constantio and his wife Laura hid three Jewish women in their home. In December 2003, they were given the Righteous among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
On March 6, 2011, the Bulgari family sold 50.4 percent of their share of the Bulgari Spa to the French Luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A. in exchange for 3 percent of LVMH. This doubled the size of the “LVMH’s watches and jewelry unit” which included Tag Heuer watches and DeBeers diamond necklaces.
In the 1970’s, Bulgari opened stores in New York City, Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo and owns more than 290 stores world-wide today.
Outside investors own 45 percent of the company stock and it grew 15 percent between 1997 and 2003.
Bulgari jewelry designs are distinctive and all necklaces, bracelets and earrings are known for their bold and bulky gold links with interlocking steel. Bugari is also recognized for using colored stones, mostly sapphires in their jewelry. Their watches have a unique serial number which is recorded with the company.
Some of their most well-known boutiques are found in Beverly Hills, Bal Harbour, Dallas, Houston, New York, Montreal, Palm Beach, Honolulu and Chicago. They also have boutiques in Lima, Bogata, Sao Paulo, Margarita Island and Quito.
The Swiss company, Bulgari Time S.A., was founded in 1980 and employs 500 people. Bulgari watches make up 29 percent of the company turnover. Some of their watch lines are “Bulgari-Bulgari, Sotirio-Bulgari, Assioma, Astrale, B. Zero 1, Daniel Roth, ReHangola, Ergon, Gerald Genta, Serpenti and Diagono”. They are also known for their tourbillion perpetual calendar and second time zone watch, the Assioma Multi Complication watch.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor are known for their love affair with each other and for the jewelry he bestowed upon her.
Edward VIII was head of the church and King of England in 1936. Just before that time, he had fallen in love with American born Wallis Simpson twice divorced. He ultimately had to choose between his obligation as a King and his love. At the end of 1936, he decided to resign from the English throne and gave a radio broadcast that explained, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of King, as I wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love”.
He became the Duke of Windsor after stepping down and married his love on June 3, 1937. Her engagement ring was a 19.77 carat emerald ring with leaf boarders surrounded by brilliant cut diamonds. It was purchased from Cartier, one of her favorite stores in 1936.
On her wedding day, she wore a beautiful diamond bracelet showing off nine diamond, ruby, emerald, aquamarine, amethyst and platinum crosses each inscribed and dated with memories between them.
It was only the beginning of many jewelry gifts given to her by her husband. She ultimately owned many diamond and colored gemstone necklaces, bracelets and brooches from stores such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. She didn’t have any rings as she thought her hands were too large and ugly.
Some of her jewelry included the well-known diamond “Zip Necklace” that could also be worn as a bracelet created for her by Van Cleef & Arpels, a gold cigarette case with a map on top accentuated with colored gemstones dated Christmas 1935 and a large flamingo clip with plumage set with caliber-cut emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The neck and body was encrusted with round single and brilliant cut diamonds made by Cartier, circa 1940; a gold coin watch made of an 1893 gold five pound coin with Roman numerals, circa 1940 and a diamond and onyx panther bracelet from Cartier, circa 1952.
The valley of Mogak just northeast of Mandalay in Burma, known as Myanmar today, lies the area where the world’s most beautiful gems have been found for a thousand years.
To travel to Myanmar today, a traveler must pay a significant amount of money to get there and expect a long difficult journey.
After a treacherous trip, the Valley of Myanmar can be reached with a population of 500,000 people. The population is there because of the beautiful rubies and sapphires that are mined in the area. One passes through streets which cater to the mining industry. Hundreds of shops that carry equipment and tools for mining and cutting equipment can be found there.
Mines of all sizes are owned by individuals or corporations in joint ventures with the government. They are found throughout the town and in the surrounding hills. Some of the most productive mines are known as Yadana Kaday-Kar, Shwe Pi Aye, Lin Yaung Gyi and Pyanung Gaung mines. Well-known geologists and expensive equipment can be found at these mines in particular.
All the mines work very much in the same way: gem gravel is taken from pits and emptied into sluices, “a channel to drain or carry off surplus water” allowing the heavy stones, hopefully gemstones, to show through. Profits are shared between everyone to keep them honest. Men, women and children take part in this activity. Children consider this work as “getting together with friends for a game of football after school”.
The La Peregrina Pearl is one of the world’s most famous pearls. It has a 500 year history. It starts with the pearl being found by an African slave at Pearl Islands in the Gulf of Panama. It has since been owned by European kings and queens and is now owned by Elizabeth Taylor. This beautiful pearl is the largest pearl ever found and “remains one of the largest perfectly symmetrical pear-shaped pearls in the world”.
As mentioned earlier, the La Peregrina Pearl was found by an African slave in the mid-16th century. The slave was given his freedom when he gave the pearl to Don Pedro de Temez.
The pearl was then given to Philip II of Spain who gave it to his bride Mary I of England. After her death in 1558, the Crown of Spain owned the pearl where it became part of the Crown Jewels for the next 250 years.
In the years since then, the pearl was owned by Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, Charles Louis Bonaparte and later by Emperor Napolean III. It was lost several times by Louisa Hamilton, Duchess of Abercon when it fell out of her necklace and was lost under the sofa and again at a ball in Buckinham Palace. It was found both times.
The Hamilton family owned the pearl until 1969 when it was sold at Sotheby’s in London to Richard Burton. He gave it to Elizabeth Taylor during their first marriage on Valentine’s Day.
At one point, she also lost the pearl and noticed one of her puppies chewing on something. It was the La Peregrina Pearl and was surprisingly not scratched.
Emerald mines can be found all over the world including the United States of America, Madagascar, Africa, India and Australia. The most beautiful emeralds are known to have come from Brazil and Columbia. I will be writing about the Columbian emerald mines. Their emeralds are known for their “transparency, crystallization and fire”. They range in color from “slightly light, yellowish green to a deep, bluish green”. Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5 to 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
In 1537, a Spaniard, Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, was the first to receive a gift of 9 emeralds from the Indians when he entered the valley of Guacheta in the Chibcha domain. He and his captains found the source of the emeralds in Somondocel or Chivor.
In 1555, Luiz Lanchera founded the village of Muzo near the Itoco mountains where large amounts of emeralds were found by Indians.
In 1558, the Spaniards began mining in the area, although they were often attacked by local Indians. The mine was ultimately abandoned and was overgrown by the jungle.
In 1594, the Spaniards found the Indians working an emerald site nearby, known as the Muzo mines today. They actively worked the mine for 15 years with tremendous results.
Between 1824 and 1848, the officials of Bogota stated that all mining had to be done under the direction of the nation.
In 1909, the Government ended their relationship with the English Company, The Colombian Emerald Mining Company, Ltd. which was “controlled by South African diamond interests” and the Government continued on their own to control the mines. Operations have been suspended since January 1, 1913.
Kashmir sapphires are considered the most beautiful and expensive sapphires in the sapphire family. They are known for their highly saturated violet-blue color with velvety transparency “which is caused by the presence of silk”.
The sapphires come from a remote region in the Zanskar range of the Himalayas in India. These mines are known not only for blue sapphires but occasionally for pink sapphires as well. The Maharaja of Kashmir posted guards in the vacinity of the mine when he heard of the Kashmir blue sapphire’s beauty and value.
From 1882 through 1887, the mine was worked thoroughly during the summer months and the mine was depleted. Stones as large as eggplants were discovered.
By 1887, T. D. LaTouch, a geologist, discovered the stones came from two different locations. The “Old Mine” which included pits in the valley wall and another on the valley floor below the “Old Mine”.
A portion of the starting journey to the mines was treacherous traveling across the Wardwan and Chinab Rivers over a rope bridge 11,550 feet high in the mountains. The Chinab River runs through a very deep and narrow canyon. The traveling was difficult going, marching high and low through many side streams running through deep gorges. Although this portion of the journey took 5 days to travel it was only 24 miles from the start as a direct line. This was only the beginning of a very long grueling trip to the mines.
Over the past century, the site has been worked periodically but very few sapphires have been found. Most Kashmir sapphires are found in antique vintage jewelry.
During the late 1920’s, Carroll Chatham set up a lab in his garage at the age of 12 attemping to “duplicate nature’s process to create a diamond”.
One of his experiments created a ruckus with his neighborhood and police. To create calm in the future, he decided to experiment making emeralds, hoping not to create an explosion as before.
When he entered California Institute of Technology in 1931, he left his experiments running in the garage. His father turned off the power at one point to his project and that action caused emerald crystals to grow. It took him 3 years to figure out how the emerald crystals formed and then he never had a problem recreating emeralds again.
Over many decades, Carroll Chatham realized his dream to create rubies, alexandrites and blue and orange sapphires. After his death in 1983, his son, Tom, was finally able to recreate Chatham diamonds.
Are Chatham gemstones real or imitation?
They are real, but lab created over a year’s time. Gemstones have the “identical physical, chemical and optical properties to those found in nature”.
Why do Chatham gemstones often look better than natural gemstones?
When growing Chatham gemstones in a laboratory, they are able to create them without the materials found in natural gemstones. They strive to create gemstones that would be equal to the very best natural gemstones commonly found in the earth.
Can you save money buying Chatham gemstones vs. natural gemstones?
Absolutely! You can save as much as $100,000 dollars per carat for Chatham diamonds. The price difference for Chatham vs. natural gemstones of similar quality can be significant.
Does Chatham offer a warranty?
Yes. They will repair or replace any gemstone at no addition charge if the stone is chipped or cracked. Just return the damaged jewelry with the receipt to your retailer and they will forward it to the Chatham Company where they will consider repair or replacement of your stone. Normal wear and tear is not covered under the warranty.
In 1941, General Electric formed an agreement with Norton and Carborundom to continue future development of diamond fusion. Heating carbon to 3000 degrees Celsius “under a pressure of 3.5 gigapascals was created for a few seconds”. World War II cut the project short. The project resumed at the General Electric Schenactady Laboratories and “a high-pressure diamond group was formed with F. P. Bundy and H. M. Strong”. Tracy Hall later joined the testing.
On December 16, 1954, Hall achieved the first commercially successful synthesis of a diamond. His achievement was announced on February 15, 1955. The diamond was very small (.15mm). It was not only small but it was an imperfect diamond as well.
It wasn’t until 1970 that synthetic gem quality diamonds were first produced by General Electric. Gem quality stones of 5mm (1.0ct) were produced. Those first diamonds were always yellow to brown in color. “Inclusions were common”. Colorless diamonds were produced by removing nitrogen and adding aluminum or titanium. If nitrogen was removed and boron was added, blue diamonds were produced. Irradiation was used to create pink or green diamonds. Memorial diamonds were also produced with cremated remains. The DeBeers Company grew diamonds up to 25 carats. Because of the cost of creating these large diamonds, synthetic diamond production was terminated when they reached a size of 1.0ct to 1.5ct.
Synthetic diamonds are produced using several methods. The first method used high pressure and high temperature (HPHT) and because of its low cost, is still used today. The second method uses chemical vapor deposition (CVD). “Other methods include explosive formation (forming detonation nanodiamonds) and sonication of graphic solutions”.
Detonation nanodiamonds are formed when a mixture absent of oxygen (TNT/RDX) is detonated in a closed chamber. Diamond particles are then produced.
Sonication uses ultrasound to perturb particles. It is known as an ultrasonic bath or an ultrasonic probe.
The hardest known materials are synthetic diamonds. Some synthetic single crystal diamonds are harder still than any known natural diamond.
In 1900, Constant Periat opened his first workshop in the Swiss Jura Region at Alle. “He specialized in the assembling of movements and complications”. Periat has always believed in working with the local labor force as he was convinced that “human capital is the strong added value of the company”.
In 1948, the son of Constant Periat, Gilbert Periat takes over the company and opens a workshop under the name of Geraldy SA.
In 1952, the Hebe brand is acquired by the company.
Between 1952 and 1965, Hebe Watch sells their watches to China, the United States, Cuba, Africa and Turkey.
Between 1965 and 1975, Gilbert Periat concentrates on supporting the local work force and creates a new product line.
Between 1975 and 1990, the quartz movements are very popular but Hebe Watch Company still believes in the mechanical movement.
Between 1995 and 2007, Hebe Watch Company specialized in a private label.
Between 2007 and 2010, Pierre Beuret invests in Hebe Watch and becomes its owner. At the time of Baselworld 2008, Hebe Watch produces a new line of chronographs and skeletons.
In March of 2011, Hebe Watch Company enjoys its 42nd year of “participation of Hebe Watch at Baselworld” and celebrates 111 years in the watch industry.