In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found a small white pebble on the banks of the Orange River, on the farm De Kalk leased from local Griquas, near Hopetown. The pebble turned out to be a 21.25 carat (4.25 g) diamond. In 1871, an even larger 83.50 carat (16.7 g) diamond was found on the slopes of Colesberg Kopje, and led to the first diamond rush into the area. As miners arrived in their thousands, the hill disappeared, and became known as the Big Hole. A town, New Rush, was formed in the area, and was renamed to Kimberley on 5 June 1873, after the British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time, John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley. The British, who had control of much of South Africa, were prompt to annex the area of the diamond mine, which became the British colony of Griqualand West. The Boers were upset by this, because they wanted it to be a part of the Orange Free State as it lay between Orange and Vaal rivers.
The largest company to operate a diamond mine in South Africa was the De Beers Company, owned by Cecil Rhodes. Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, mostly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms, because the De Beers company was in search of cheap labour to run the mines with.
|Kimberley Diamond |
Originally a 490-carat rough, this champagne colored stone named after the Kimberley Mine in South Africa, was cut to 70 carats in 1921, and to its current emerald shape in 1958. The Kimberley was widely exhibited until it was sold to an undisclosed collector from Texas in 1971.