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From Rush to Pause: The Story of Venezuelan Diamonds

Diamonds were first discovered in Venezuela in 1902, but production mostly stayed inconsistent and sporadic until 1943. After the discovery of the 155-carat “Libertador” diamond in the Gran Sabana region in 1942 (to be processed into four faceted diamonds by Harry Winston two years later), a diamond rush followed and additional diamondiferous areas were discovered and exploited throughout the country.

Diamond production in Venezuela has been fraught with controversy. In 2008, Venezuela, a Kimberley Process member, suspended itself from the KP for two years. Before that, a group of seven NGOs called for Venezuela’s immediate expulsion from the KPCS due to “serious non-compliance” with the anti-conflict diamond scheme from 2004 to 2008. During the meeting, KP chairman Rahul Khullar declared that Venezuela has undertaken to refrain from the export of rough diamonds for two years.

Starting 2006, Venezuela has been part of KP’s artisanal and alluvial working group. There are no KP figures for exports and imports of rough diamonds from 2010 to 2014, and the last figures, from 2009, indicate production of 7,730 carats at a value of $725,808.06

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