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 diamonds’ unique properties are required.

Key facts

  • In 2016, Canada was the third largest producer by value (11.3%) and the fifth largest producer by volume (9.7%).
  • Canada’s total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2 billion in 2016.

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 13 million carats of diamonds valued at $1.9 billion in 2016, representing an 11.6% increase in volume and a 13.9% decrease in value compared to 2015.

Diamond mines and advanced projects in Canada, 2016

Text version

This map of Canada shows the locations of 5 diamond mines and 3 advanced projects by province and territory. The Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué mines are located about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, while the Victor mine is located in northern Ontario and the Renard mine is located 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 is located in Nunavut about 170 kilometres north of the Diavik mine, and the Star-Orion project is located in central Saskatchewan.

Key factors that contributed to 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
  • the opening of De Beers Canada’s 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 placement of the Snap Lake mine on care and maintenance, and lower output from the Victor mine, both high-value-per-carat mines
  • lower-value diamonds mined at Ekati
  • a 5% drop in the market price for rough diamonds
  • a 3.6% depreciation of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar

Canadian production of rough diamonds 2007–2016 (p)

Text version

This bar chart shows the yearly volume of Canada’s diamond production from 2007 to 2016. From a peak at 17.1 million carats in 2007, production gradually declined to about 10.9 million carats in 2009, a level at which it hovered until 2013. Canada’s production then increased to 12.0 million carats in 2014 before declining to 11.7 million in 2015, but increased again to 13.0 million carats in 2016.

Superimposed on the bar chart is a line showing the value of Canadian diamond production over the same period. In 2007, Canada’s diamond production was valued at $1.8 billion. In 2008, the value peaked at $2.37 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.

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, 2016 (p)
Ranking Country Percentage
1 Russia 30.1%
2 Congo, D.R. 17.3%
3 Botswana 15.3%
4 Australia 10.4%
5 Canada 9.7%
6 Angola 6.7%
7 South Africa 6.2%
8 Zimbabwe 1.6%
9 Namibia 1.3%
10 Sierra Leone 0.4%
- Other Countries 1.0%
World production by country—value basis

Worldwide, 6 countries accounted for 90% of production by value.

World production of rough diamonds, by country, value basis, 2016 (p)
Ranking Country Percentage
1 Russia 28.9%
2 Botswana 23.0%
3 Canada 11.3%
4 South Africa 10.1%
5 Angola 8.7%
6 Namibia 7.4%
7 Lesotho 2.9%
8 Australia 1.7%
9 Zimbabwe 0.8%
- Other Countries 5.0%

World production of rough diamonds, 2007–2016 (p)

Text version

This bar chart shows the world’s annual production of rough diamonds, in U.S. dollars, from 2007 to 2016. Production was valued at $11.9 billion in 2007. It then peaked at $12.6 billion in 2008 before falling to $8.3 billion in 2009. Production then gradually increased to $14.1 billion in 2011, fell to $12.6 billion in 2012 and gradually increased to an all-time high of $14.5 billion in 2014. It then decreased to $14.2 billion in 2015 before falling to about $12.4 billion in 2016.

Superimposed on the bar chart is a line showing the volume of world diamond production over the same period. From a high of 167.9 million carats in 2007, the volume decreased to a low of about 120 million carats in 2009. It then increased to 128.3 million carats in 2010, fell to just under 123 million carats in 2011 and reached 129.8 million carats in 2013. Production then fell to 124.8 million carats in 2014 before gradually increasing to 134.0 million carats in 2016.

Trade

Exports

  • Canada’s total primary exports of diamonds were valued at $2 billion.
  • Canada’s exports of diamonds decreased by 15.8% in 2016 because of a decrease in both volume and value.
  • 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, India, Botswana, the United States and Israel.

Imports

  • The estimated value of Canada’s total primary imports of diamonds was $525 million in 2016.
  • The value of diamond imports decreased by 3% in 2016 because of a drop (23%) in the import of uncut gem diamonds.
  • The top import item by value was cut gem diamonds, most exceeding 0.5 carats 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, 2007–2016

Text version

This line chart shows the average value per carat of the world’s diamond production from 2007 to 2016. Starting at a US$71.08 per-carat value in 2007, the average value increased to US$83.34 in 2008 before falling back 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. From that point, the average value gradually increased to reach 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$92.31.

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

Totals may be different because of rounding.

Production

  • Diamond mines and advanced projects in Canada, 2016
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian production of rough diamonds, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada

International context

  • World production of rough diamonds, by country, carat basis, 2016 (p)
    • Kimberley process certification scheme
  • World production of rough diamonds, by country, value basis, 2016 (p)
    • Kimberley process certification scheme
  • World production of rough diamonds, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Kimberley process certification scheme  

Prices

  • Rough diamonds, average value per carat, 2007–2016
    • Kimberley process certification scheme