We visited the Cape Town Diamond Museum in the Clock Tower Precinct of the V&A Waterfront to learn more about the creation of a diamond. It is a complex journey from darkness to light, incorporating elements of geology, science, time and skill before it attracts our attention as a rather unremarkable stone.
Then the history unfolds as the stone captivates humans, shapes countries, fuels battles and sparks inventions as the process of mining and transforming the stone into a gem of exquisite beauty is refined.
The guided tour leads you through the formation of diamonds to the stories of the Kimberley Diamond Rush and the men who shaped the industry, starting with the fifteen-year-old boy who found the first diamond in South Africa.
The diamonds we desire are shiny and pretty but the process of getting them out of the earth was back-breaking work in dark and dirty conditions. Get a taste of the life of a miner, don boots, a heavy jacket, gumboots and a helmet and enter the gloomy replica of a diamond mine, complete with the continuous noise, low roof and dim lighting.
Marvel at replicas of the world famous Cullinan, Hope and Taylor Burton diamonds, and the magnificent Star of Africa diamond, all displayed on rotating stands.
The museum is a non-profit organisation focused on creating a new appreciation for diamonds and the diamond industry. To demonstrate their commitment to growing local and international tourism; Shimansky launched a new diamond experience at the Green Point Rockwell Hotel – this showroom offers a unique tasting experience for a truly memorable and sensorial experience. Guests can enjoy Shimansky’s selection of local South African wines, whilst those with a taste for gin or whiskey can experience one of South Africa’s premium craft gin and whiskey brands in the new bar lounge.
Watch the diamond cutters and polishers at work and learn about the importance of the different cuts and how they impact on the clarity of the stone.
Discover the rarest gem on earth, Tanzanite, found only in a small, four-kilometre strip of land in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Finally, enter the dazzling showroom and see the end result of the diamonds long journey as the stone finally rests, cradled in a gold, silver or platinum design.
Admire the brilliance and depth of the blues and violets of the tanzanite rings and pendants.
While you browse enjoy a coffee or a craft gin and choose a fragrance to complement your stone.
Before you leave, spend some time outside the store reliving the past in the huge collage of sepia photographs telling the story of diamond mining in South Africa.
Did you know?
- Diamonds were formed over three billion years ago in the deep darkness two hundred kilometres below the surface of the earth.
- No two diamonds are the same. The cut, colour, clarity, and weight (carat) gives it its unique fingerprint.
- Shimansky has five internationally patented diamond cuts, the most famous of which is the My Girl Diamond and the Brilliant 10 Diamond.
- Shimansky diamonds are conflict-free, sourced directly from South African mines. So if you saw the movie Blood Diamonds, don’t worry, all Shimansky stones have a clear conscience and the paperwork to prove it.
- All Shimansky diamonds are accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity which states the diamond’s details.
- Tanzanite was only discovered in 1967 and will probably be depleted by 2030
- Tanzanite is the rarest gem on earth, a thousand times more so than diamonds.
The fascinating stories of South African diamonds add to the appreciation of the beauty of a variety of styles of the stones and jewellery on offer.
Written by Di Brown of The Roaming Giraffe
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One Destination, 6 Unbelievable Experiences
There is no one way to explore all of the Cape Town Big 6, and much of what makes each of them so special is the variety of things to see and do at each. So if possible, take your time to explore each of the city’s most visited tourist attractions in as much depth as possible – as any local will tell you, you can spend a lifetime at each of the Big 6 and still not tire of them. Find the 3 and 4 day itineraries and tips here.