Russia Has More Diamonds In A Crater Than The Rest Of The World Has Combined

If you had more diamonds than the rest of the world combined hiding under an asteroid crater, would you tell anyone? Russia was happy to keep that knowledge a secret until now, finally revealing plans to begin tapping into a reserve containing trillions of carats worth of diamonds.

It's a treasure trove of unprecedented scope, secrecy and value.

First reported by the Christian Science Monitor, the crater, which rests in the upper reaches of Siberia, was left by an asteroid that crashed into Earth 35 million years ago, creating an impact zone that's 100km in diameter. In the intervening eons, it's believed to have spawned enough diamonds to power the global market for the next 3000 years. By context, the next biggest Russian reserve at the Yakutia mines is believed to have one billion carats -- several orders of magnitude less than this current haul.

What makes these diamonds especially valuable to prospective buyers is the fact that they're impact diamonds, or diamonds formed as a result of an asteroid or meteor crashing into the carbon-based compound graphite. According to IDEX, these are diamonds that can never be used as jewels, but rather are extremely valuable for their industrial applications. For starters, Russian officials claim these newly revealed diamonds, known as impactite, are twice as hard as normal diamonds, while others value these diamonds for their grain size and abrasive cuts.

So why reveal the secret now, after all these years? When the discovery was first made decades ago, Russian already had other diamond mines which were yielding abundant amounts of the coveted mineral. And because the diamond industry was heavily regulated back then, there was little financial motivation to announce a discovery that has the power to heavily influence the market for these things. But now, with the diamond industry starting to show signs of life after bottoming out in 2009, and the increased use of diamonds in the technological world, Russia seems to think its a good time to start mining these valuable little things (or at least start thinking about mining them).

But the true effect will take time to be felt, according to a quote given to the Russian publication ITAR-TASS by an expert in the field:

Deputy Director of the Yakutnipromalmaz Institute Gennady Nikitin warns: "The Popigai diamonds can overturn everything, and is not clear what will happen to prices in the market."

So how will this impact us normal people? Probably not much at all. Since these jewels will never be converted to gems, the price of that wedding ring you plan to give or receive will never be affected by this Russian stockpile. But should there be a global shortage in the future, Russia will be in a unique position of controlling the entire industrial diamond industry. Given the increased use of lasers in technological innovations, and the quest to attain nuclear fusion (both of which rely on industrial diamonds), the demand for this rock won't be diminishing anytime soon. [Christian Science Monitor]

Image: Shutterstock

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    Hmmm, they probably didn't want to tell anyone because that might jeopardize the prices that they're currently selling their diamonds for... Still, interesting stuff :)

    Looks like De Vere's strangle hold on regular Diamonds is safe then.! I guarantee, if they were good quality stones that the Ruskies would have created there own Diamond cartel.

    "secrecy was finally lifted" - Google scholar shows papers reaching back to at least 1990 on this subject

    Dear russia,
    Please use your ridiculously bright russian scientists to develop Diamond computer componants,
    that is all.

    hmm as a gemmologist i have my doubts about the veracity of this story . Still it's interesting , and the industrial diamond market is many times bigger than the gem diamond market

    iPhone 6 diamond backplates. FTW!!!


    that $6000 dollar engagement ring i paid top dollar for is now worth $3000?

      Nope! It was never worth anything like that kind of money in the first place. DeVeres have a Diamond monopoly, they have shed loads of good quality Diamonds but they only release enough to keep the market buoyant and their pockets full.

        Exactly, it's all bullshit. They just slowly release diamonds to the market and create a fake "supply" and limit the amount so we consumer fools pay top $.

          It's "De Beers", Nobby.

            Well I knew it was something like that! Can't expect me to Google everything?

        if you paid 6k for a diamond it probably wasnt top dollar/quality anyway :P

        Wholesale diamonds are a lot cheaper than what they charge for them. For example your 6k diamond would probably have been worth 1800 at wholesale and this is obvioulsy how they make money. This is coming from a guy that had an unused engagement ring that tried to recoup the cost back... no dice!

          I'm well aware that diamonds are well sought after, but I'll never understand the value people put on rocks and minerals, especially those that have purely aesthetic uses.

            well that's the whole point, its a status thing, jewellery always has been. Anything is only worth what people are prepared to pay for it anyway.

            personally I wouldn't be asking a girl to marry me with a silver ring with a big CZ that's for sure.

      If you bought it from a store, they probably sold the exact same ring on special for $3000 six months later anyway.

        Hand made custom design, so perhaps not...

    hahaha, gem diamonds aint worth squat! Back in 1929 De Beers asked an advertising agency in New York to sell diamonds for them. They invented the term "Diamonds are a girls best friend". The whole market is based on that. Its all a marketing con. Royalty have always had coloured gems, Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds etc so its nothing to do with that either. The rarest stones are Tanzanites, and quite cheap actually.

    So why exactly can't they be used as jewels? Nothing in the linked article said why either.

      Quality. Most industrial stones have fractures or are too small or the wrong shape. Gem quality stones also have a high facet reflection, which makes them seem to glow. Plus they are very hard too.

      From what I understand, these stones have far more value in the industrial market, hence won't be released into the gem market.

      You didn't quite finish the article - last line "Most of these diamonds are between 0.5- and 2 mm in diameter, though a few exceptional specimens are 10 mm. The diamonds inherit the tabular shape and striations of the original graphite grains"

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