206 THE DIAMOND MINES OF SOUTH AFRICA
weekly from the Colesberg Kopje alone, and he states that the best claims had risen in value from £ 100 or less to £ 4000.1
was clearly shown, too, that even the highest price paid for a claim
might be cheap, for one poor Dutchman, " Smuts," who bought half a
claim for £ 50 is said to have found diamonds in two months' working to the value of £ 15,000
or more. Another digger found, in a few months, no less than 730 stones
in his claim, one of which weighed 156 carats." Such great good fortune
was rare in the other mines, and many miners won little or nothing from
months of hard work in their claims, but in the Colesberg Kopje, or
Kimberley mine, the prizes were so common and exciting that every foot
of ground was covered by diamond seekers. When the rubbing of
shoulders was too close for comfort, one or more of the partners in a
claim would be pressed to sell out and start again prospecting.
Sometimes a share in a claim, worth many hundreds of pounds, would be
risked on the toss of a penny:'
the heat of the search and extraction many fine diamonds were
fractured, and many of the smaller stones ran through the sieves into
the tailings, as was afterward demonstrated when the waste heaps were
reworked with better appliances.4 The Kimberley mine
produced some stones of large size, running sometimes over one hundred
carats, but the mass of crystals ran under five carats. A yellowish
tinge was more marked in the diamonds of the uplands than in the river
stones, and many otherwise superb crystals were so decidedly "off
color" that their value was greatly impaired.
was early noticed that the diamonds of one mine often differed
materially from those of another, and even in the same mine diamonds of
one section were unlike the yield of another. Thus, in the west end of
the Kimberley mine the diamond crystals were exceptionally perfect
octahedrons, or exceptionally white "glassy stones," as the miners
called them; while elsewhere in the mine the crystals had, more
commonly, rounded and bevelled
1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid. s Ibid. 4 "Diamonds and Gold in South Africa," Reunert, 1893.