Diamond Hopes Crushed in South Africa

Some stones found in a South African village were thought to be diamonds. Hundreds rushed into the area but the stones are actually quartz crystals.

Around June 14, a cattle herder in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, in the north east of South Africa, dug and found some clear, sparkling stones. The more he dug, the more he found them. They looked like diamonds.

And news quickly spread out on social media. In less than a week, hundreds of South Africans flocked to the site, looking for the precious stone nights and days while the country is suffering from record-high unemployment rates. Some drove more than 4 hours to have a chance of finding gems, although the mining is illegal.

Was it the revival of the Eureka diamond? A stone found by a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Jacobs in 1867 turned out to be a 21.25 carats diamond. The discovery then triggered a diamond rush which started the Mineral revolution in South Africa.

Stones found in South Africa believed to be diamonds
The stones found in Ladysmith are quartz and not diamonds | Twitter

Fears that the diamond/quartz rush becomes a Covid-19 super-spreader

But a team of government officials and members of the council for geoscience sent to investigate the discovery of diamonds determined that they were in fact quartz crystals.

The tests “inconclusively revealed that the stones in the area are not diamonds as some has hoped“, said Ravi Pillay, a member of the executive council for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs in the region. It was confirmed by “visual, geological and chemical analyses“.

Quartz is a very common mineral but can still be used, such as for making jewellery. The value of the crystals found is still to be determined but, if some types can be considered as semi-precious gemstones, diamonds are about a thousand times more expensive than quartz.

Moreover, authorities are now concerned that the diamond rush could become a super-spreader of Covid-19 as the country is suffering from a third wave of the pandemic.

A few years ago, thousands of people rushed into the area of Harding in the south east of South Africa after gold flake substance was discovered. It turned out not to be gold.

Diamond rush in Ladysmith
As hundreds flocked to dig out some stones, authorities fear it will create a super-spreader cluster of Covid-19 | Twitter

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