4 Different Ways to Mine Genuine Gemstones

| 4 min read

When considering the concept of gemstone mining, you may think of nothing but underground mine shafts and long tunnels – and to an extent, this is true.

But although this is one way of extracting gemstones from the earth, it’s not the only way! Here, we look at four of the most common gemstone mining processes.


Underground mining

True to what’s depicted, underground mining involves digging shafts and tunnels deep underground to reach the gemstones buried in the earth. Then, the tunnels are used to bring the deposits to the surface.

Underground mining can be achieved using three different methods – tunnelling, block caving and chambering. Tunnelling is where a tunnel is made from the surface down to the rock where the gems sit, and they are often retrieved using a pickaxe.

Block caving involves undermining a gemstone so it collapses under its weight in order to be excavated; this method is most often used in Diamond mining. Finally, chambering is achieved by sinking a vertical shaft into the rock, where tunnels are driven into the veins from the main shaft. The gemstones are then blasted and moved up to the surface using this shaft.


Open cast mining

Open cast mining involves retrieving gemstones from the earth’s surface by simply digging downwards. This creates a huge pit, often up to 1.2km wide, which is why this mining technique is also known as ‘open pit mining’.

Open cast mining is only really used when the gemstones, such as Diamonds, are located near to the surface and the earth that covers them is thinner. Plus, to prevent accidents, the walls of the pit are created at an angle to avoid both damage and rock fall, and to stop debris from falling from the top to the bottom of the mine.

Once these mines are exhausted, the land is often stabilised and used for other things to reduce its environmental impact. Sometimes, open cast mines like these are converted into wetlands, parks and even housing communities.


Sea mining

Many gemstones are found on beaches and coastlines all over the world – and we all know of the process involving divers going down into the depths to retrieve the world’s finest Pearls. However, finding offshore gemstones can involve a method called deep-sea mining.

True to its name, sea mining takes place on the ocean floor, and the gemstones are often extracted using a hydraulic suction system. Alternatively, miners can use a continuous-line bucket, which works like a conveyer belt that brings gemstones all the way from the ocean floor to the surface. However, this is one of the most expensive mining methods out there, so it is only really used to extract Diamonds.


River digging

Sticking to water-based mining, many gemstones can also be found in rivers and lakes in various parts of the world. There are two common methods used to extract gemstones from rivers: wet digging and dry digging.

Wet digging is also known as panning, where the miner first finds areas of a riverbed that may contain gemstones. Then the miner takes a large pan, fills it with water from the river and shakes it back and forth to settle the heavier materials (like sand, gravel and dirt) to the bottom. The lighter materials are then washed over the top of the pan as its shaken, and these steps can be repeated any number of times until there are only gemstones left in the pan.

Depending on the supply of gemstones in that particular mining area, this process can be long and painstaking – but it is always worth it to find the buried treasure at the end.

Dry digging, on the other hand, requires blocking off the flow of the river at both ends to create a dry area that the miners can use to collect gemstones freely.

Ultimately, a huge amount of effort and treasure goes into sourcing Mother Nature's precious gems. We pride ourselves in responsibly sourcing our gemstones from ethical mines, and going directly to the source in order to bring you the best deals on prized, natural gems.


Our Most Popular Blog Posts

Our Latest Blog Posts