Diamond facts

Diamonds are best known as gemstones, even though only 20% of the world's production by weight is used for jewellery. The other 80%, known as bort, is used in industrial and research applications where the unique properties of diamonds are required.

Key facts

  • In 2017, Canada was the world's third largest producer of diamonds by value (14.6%) and the second largest producer by volume (15.4%)
  • Canada's total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2.6 billion in 2017

Learn more about diamonds

Uses

As the hardest known material, diamonds have been used for centuries as an abrasive in cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing. This is the dominant industrial use for diamonds.

Diamonds also have the highest thermal conductivity of any material at room temperature and are used as a sink to dissipate heat in electronic devices such as computers and diode lamps.

Production

Canadian mines produced 23 million carats of diamonds valued at $2.7 billion in 2017, representing a 78.2% increase in volume and a 44.3% increase in value over 2016.

Diamond mines and advanced projects in Canada, 2017

Text version

This map of Canada shows the locations of five diamond mines and three advanced projects (i.e., a mine with suspended operations or an exploration project with a significant bulk sample and/or a pre-feasibility study), by province and territory. The Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué mines are located about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The Victor mine is located in northern Ontario and the Renard mine, in northern Quebec. From west to east, the advanced projects are located as follows: the Snap Lake project is located near the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories, the Jericho project, in Nunavut about 170 kilometres north of the Diavik mine, and the Star-Orion project, in central Saskatchewan.

Key factors in the increase in volume:

  • An increase in production at the Ekati mine, which sourced more of its ore from the high-grade Misery main pit, as well as increases in production at the Diavik and Victor mines
  • The opening of De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. (49%) Gahcho Kué mine
  • The opening of the Stornoway Diamond Corporation's Renard mine, which helped compensate for the closure of De Beers Canada's Snap Lake mine

Key factors that caused the decrease in value:

  • The significant increase in carat production, including from the high-value-per-carat Victor mine
  • The increase in average rough diamond market prices, which is estimated at 2.7% for the year
  • The 1.9% appreciation of the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar

This increase in value was achieved despite the mining of lower-value diamonds, in general, during the year.

Canadian production of rough diamonds, 2008–2017 (p)

Text version

This bar graph shows the yearly volume of Canada's diamond production from 2008 to 2017. Starting at 14.5 million carats in 2008, the production declined to about 10.9 million carats in 2009, a level at which it hovered until 2013. Production then increased to 12.0 million carats in 2014 and declined to 11.7 million in 2015, before increasing to 13.0 million carats in 2016 and spiking to 23.2 million carats in 2017.

Superimposed on the bar graph is a line showing the value of Canadian diamond production over the same period. In 2008, the value of Canada's diamond production recorded a high of $2.4 billion before declining to $1.7 billion in 2009. It then gradually increased to reach an all-time high of $2.5 billion in 2011. The value then gradually decreased to a low of $2.0 billion in 2013, after which it increased to $2.2 billion in 2014. In 2015, Canada's diamond production value decreased to $2.1 billion and fell further to $1.9 billion in 2016, before achieving a new all-time high of $2.7 billion in 2017.

International context

Find out more about diamond production on an international scale:

World production by country – Carat basis
World production of rough diamonds, by country, carat basis, 2017 (p)
Ranking Country Percentage
1 Russia 28.2%
2 Canada 15.4%
3 Botswana 15.2%
4 Congo, D.R. 12.5%
5 Australia 11.4%
6 South Africa 6.4%
7 Angola 6.3%
8 Zimbabwe 1.7%
9 Namibia 1.3%
10 Lesotho 0.7%
- Other countries 0.9%
Total 100.0%
World production by country – Value basis

Worldwide, six countries accounted for 89% of production by value.

World production of rough diamonds, by country, value basis, 2017 (p)
Ranking Country Percentage
1 Russia 29.1%
2 Botswana 23.6%
3 Canada 14.6%
4 South Africa 9.2%
5 Angola 7.8%
6 Namibia 7.2%
7 Lesotho 2.4%
8 Australia 1.4%
9 Zimbabwe 1.2%
- Other countries 3.5%
Total 100.0%

World production of rough diamonds, 2008–2017 (p)

Text version

This bar graph shows the world's annual production of rough diamonds, in US dollars, from 2008 to 2017. Production was valued at $12.6 billion in 2008 before falling to $8.3 billion in 2009. It then gradually increased to $14.1 billion in 2011, fell to $12.6 billion in 2012, and gradually increased to a high of $14.5 billion in 2014. The value of production then decreased to $14.2 billion in 2015 and fell to about $12.3 billion in 2016, before reaching a high of $14.1 billion in 2017.

Superimposed on the bar graph is a line showing the volume of world diamond production over the same period. From a high of 150.9 million carats in 2008, the volume decreased to a low of about 120.2 million carats in 2009. It then increased to 128.3 million carats in 2010, fell to just under 123 million carats in 2011 and gradually increased to 129.8 million carats in 2013. Production then fell to 124.8 million carats in 2014 and increased to 128.3 million carats in 2015 before falling again at 126.4 million carats in 2016. In 2017, the world production of rough diamonds jumped to a high of 150.9 million carats.

Trade

Exports

  • Canada's total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2.6 billion in 2017
  • Canada's exports of diamonds increased by 32.3% in 2017, mainly because of an increase in both volume and value of production
  • Canada's most important diamond export items by value were unsorted rough diamonds, sorted gem-quality rough diamonds and cut gem-quality diamonds
  • Exports were shipped mostly to Belgium, Botswana, India, the United States and Israel

Imports

  • The estimated value of Canada's total primary imports of diamonds was $533 million in 2017
  • The value of diamond imports increased by 2% in 2017 because of an increase (30%) in the import of uncut gem diamonds
  • The top import item by value was cut gem diamonds, most exceeding 0.5 carat in weight, which were destined for jewellery manufacturing, followed by uncut gem diamonds

Prices

There are no internationally set prices for rough gem-quality diamonds, as there are for many metals and other commodities. Mining companies hold “sights” at regular intervals to market their production. The prices reached at these sights are dictated by supply and demand for each of the many categories of diamonds.

Rough diamonds, average value per carat, 2008–2017 (p)

Text version

This line graph shows the average value per carat of the world's diamond production from 2008 to 2017, according to statistics compiled by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Starting at a US$83.34 per-carat value in 2008, the average value fell to US$68.72 in 2009. It then gradually increased to US$114.51 in 2011 before falling back to US$98.82 in 2012. The average value then gradually increased to US$116.17 in 2014 before falling back to US$110.99 in 2015. In 2016, the average value per carat of the world's diamond production dropped further to US$97.08 and continued its downward trend to US$93.60 in 2017.

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

Totals may be different because of rounding.

Production

  • Diamond mines and advanced projects in Canada, 2017
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian production of rough diamonds, 2008–2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada

International context

  • World production of rough diamonds, by country, carat basis, 2017 (p)
    • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
  • World production of rough diamonds, by country, value basis, 2017 (p)
    • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
  • World production of rough diamonds, 2008–2017 (p)
    • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

Prices

  • Rough diamonds, average value per carat, 2008–2017
    • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme