World’s Largest Known Diamond Deposit Was Formed When an Asteroid Slammed Into the Earth a Long Time Ago

The world’s largest known diamond deposit — containing trillions of carats — lies at the bottom of the Popigai Crater in a remote part of northern Siberia.

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Scientists believe the crater was formed 35 million years ago when an asteroid 3 to 5 miles across slammed into the Earth with such velocity that it ripped a 63-mile-wide gash in the landscape. The impact produced an energy burst equivalent to millions of nuclear weapons and generated temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun, according to geology.com.

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Under this intense heat and pressure, the limestones, marbles, dolomites and other carbon-bearing rocks in the impact zone were instantly melted and transformed into diamond.

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Before you book your next trip to Siberia to prospect for what is estimated to be trillions of carats of diamonds, take note that just about all of them are of industrial quality. Most are tiny yellow-brown crystals, although some can be up to a half-inch in size.

None are suitable for jewelry, unless your significant other has an unusual affection for blemished, off-color diamonds. Popigai diamonds are valued at about $12 per carat, according to Popular Mechanics, and are strewn over such a wide and remote area that they offer little commercial value. Today, nearly all of the diamonds used in the U.S. for industrial purposes, such as coating saw blades and drill tips, are synthetic and lab-produced in vast quantities.

Interestingly, the Russian government had known about the huge trove of diamonds buried under the surface of the crater since the 1970s, but kept it a secret until a 2012. The Popigai Crater has been designated by UNESCO as a Geopark, a site of special geological heritage.

Credits: Asteroid illustration via NASA; Popigai Crater image via NASA, public domain; Google Maps.

Sanitation Workers Defy All Odds by Finding $400K Bridal Set Buried in 8 Tons of Rotting Garbage

Sanitation workers in Bridgeton, Mo., defied impossible odds when they miraculously pulled a $400,000 diamond bridal set from an 8-ton pile of rotting garbage. The search took only 22 minutes.

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How the 12.5-carat pear-shaped diamond ring and matching wedding band got into the trash makes an interesting story…

Carla and Bernie Squitieri of Clarkson Valley, Mo., had just finished their evening meal and were cleaning up around the kitchen when they got a surprise visit from their granddaughter.

Earlier, Carla had taken off her rings and wrapped them in a paper towel while she was drying the dishes, but when the doorbell rang, she got distracted and temporarily lost track of her very precious keepsakes.

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At 7 a.m. the next morning, Bernie noticed the wadded-up paper towels on the counter, scooped them up and tossed them in the trash. Then he grabbed the trash bag and ran out to meet up the sanitation truck, which was heading down his street.

“Don’t forget this one,” he shouted as he handed the bag to the sanitation worker.

A few hours later, panic started to set in when Carla realized her rings were gone.

“I’m crying, I’m feeling hopeless, I knew something had happened,” Carla told TODAY.

The couple put two and two together and realized the rings were probably on their way to the landfill.

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They called Meridian Waste Services in Bridgeton and learned that their trash — along with the trash of 900 other customers — was on its way to a radioactive landfill. Had the rings ended up there, they wouldn’t be accessible and the chances of a recovery would be zero.

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However, a sympathetic operations manager, Joe Evans, agreed to divert the truck to a transfer station in O’Fallon, where the Squitieris and three sanitation company managers — all dressed in Hazmat suits — would make an attempt to find the rings.

Bernie said the sanitation workers warned him that the chances of finding the rings in the 30-foot wide by 100-foot long by 20-foot high pile of garbage were “slim to none.”

But, in just 22 minutes, Evans had crushed the odds.

“When I first noticed it, I was like, ‘Oh my god I can’t believe I found it,'” Evans told TODAY. “I yelled ‘Hey, I found it!’ Her eyes got real big, with tears of joy and relief. Ten times out of 10, we don’t find something like that. It was the best feeling in the world to find that ring and give it back.”

“My wife was in shock,” Bernie told ABC News. “It was a miracle.”

Without considering how gunky they were, Carla quickly returned the rings to the ring finger of her left hand.

“I put [the rings] on dirty. I didn’t care,” she told TODAY.

While the rings were insured, losing them would have been devastating for the couple that has been married for 26 years.

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Said Carla, “I planned on handing [them] down to my one and only daughter — never mind the monetary value, it’s the sentimental value.”

Images: Bernie Squitieri; Screen captures via fox2now.com/KTVI St. Louis.

Tanzania’s Williamson Mine Yields Another Exceptional ‘Bubblegum’ Pink Diamond; Petra Sells 32-Carat Gem for $15M

Petra Diamonds announced that it sold an exceptional 32.33-carat “bubblegum” pink rough diamond for a remarkable $15 million, or $463,965 per carat. The stone was sourced in Tanzania at Petra’s legendary Williamson Mine, which has been producing gem-quality “bubblegum” pink diamonds for the past 76 years.

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The diamond was purchased by Golden Yellow Diamonds on behalf of Israeli diamond manufacturer M. A. Anavi Diamond Group, a company specializing in colored diamonds.

As part of the deal, Petra also retained an interest in the diamond once it is polished, so when the faceted gem is sold, Petra will earn 10% of the “value uplift” of that sale, as well.

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Petra’s most recent find outperformed another notable pink diamond that we wrote about in November 2015. That rough diamond, also from Petra’s Williamson Mine and also purchased by Golden Yellow Diamonds on behalf of M. A. Anavi Diamond Group, weighed 23.16 carats and sold for $10.1 million, or $433,938 per carat. At the time, we reported that it was Petra’s most significant recovery from the mine to date. Clearly, the 32.33-carat diamond replaces the November discovery as its best find yet.

Vivid pink diamonds of exceptional size and quality are a favorite of gem connoisseurs. In early November, billionaire Joseph Lau purchased a cushion-shaped 16.08-carat pink diamond for $28.5 million ($1.7 million per carat), setting an auction record for any vivid pink diamond.

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Although the Williamson Mine has been operational for more than three-quarters of a century and has already generated 20 million carats of diamonds, geologists believe the mine still has the capacity to deliver an additional 40 million carats. The mine’s average depth is only 30 to 35 meters, and theoretically it could continue to yield diamonds as deep as 350 meters.

Pink diamonds owe their bubblegum color to the effects of intense pressure and heat while they were still deep within the earth. These factors caused distortions in the diamond’s crystal lattice that influence the way the diamond absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink hue.

The Williamson Mine is currently co-owned by Petra Diamonds and the government of Tanzania, which holds a 25% stake.

Credits: Petra Diamonds; Google Maps.