what the effect of a burning airplane's heat would be. The official in
charge could only reply cautiously, "Well, it wouldn't do them any
good." The fact was, nobody knew the answers right off the bat. Such a
quantity of valuable material is seldom available for experimentation.
Even De Beers has never tried it out in just the conditions obtained at
Prestwick Airport. As it turned out, few of the diamonds, if any, had
been completely consumed, as far as the experts know. (Some are still
missing, but that doesn't mean they were burned up.) A lot of them,
however, were covered with charred black material. Ultimately they were
cured with a fair amount of success, though with loss in weight.
Lloyd's had to pay off, and the salvaged diamonds became its property;
eventually, with the help of the Diamond Trading Company, it sold
them—at some loss, of course—to other diamond dealers who had them cut
and polished and offered them for sale.
far as the dealers in America were concerned, the story ended pretty
well; any loss they suffered was more than made up by the insurance.
One firm's directors felt so squeamish at making a profit out of
calamity that they sent the extra 10 per cent back to England for
distribution among families that had been bereaved by the accident.
fact that nearly 90 per cent of the lost stones were recovered is a
triumph in the history of diamond mining. For it was definitely by a
mining process that they were finally extracted from Scottish mud. In
Britain, engineers set up a miniature washing plant modeled on the big
plant of the Premier Mine in South Africa. Next to the Prestwick
runway the mud was four inches thick. All this top covering, two
hundred square yards in extent, was scraped up and washed. The chief