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The Month of Arctic Diamonds

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

Perhaps since it’s been a pretty cold winter this year, with a 3 record snow falls for the Westcoast, I have had the arctic on my mind lately. Taking into consideration I have spent a few weeks in the New Year in the land of the sun, when I arrived back it was still winter, with an exception to our cherry tree outside of our design office trying to blossom.

It did kind of bloom but then the snow happened again and it reminded me of those snowy scenes dotted with cherry trees that you see from photos taken in Japan. Quite striking – but still getting back to the snow: I have to say I do like the fresh
coldness of winter, and I have always enjoyed any scene or wildlife that not just survives but thrives in the arctic.

I had a beautiful block of marble that I have been saving up for sometime. So, I began to create a scene in my imagination of a polar bear and what his environment would look like. I wanted to be sure to accentuate the bears natural habitat so I placed the bear carefully on the ice flow. I love how this piece is working out as the bear has a great presence and the ice forms I made out of crystal give me a sense of appreciation for all of nature’s magnificence from every corner of the globe.

If you want to visit some scenes of the creation process of this piece, you can find the recap called “#AskLyle #11 Video Replay” on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/SopelStudio).

Another gem that comes to my mind when I think about the northern pole is diamonds from this region known as:

Arctic Diamonds –

For centuries diamonds have enchanted the masses as a staple of elegance, refinement and class, and are mined in many countries around the world.

The diamond has, as recently as the early 90’,s been unearthed in Canada’s very own Great North making Canada the third largest diamond producer in the world to date.

Throughout the 20th century the majority of us would never have thought about Canada’s Arctic being a significant and ongoing producer of diamonds, although there is a rich history of other types of mining based out of the Arctic such as gold, iron ore, lead, nickel, palladium; to name a few. Most of our knowledge of diamonds has been concentrated on mining operations in Africa in particular, and popular diamond trading centers in Europe.

This all began to change in 1991 when two geologists by the names of Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson, found evidence of ‘Diamond-bearing kimberlite’ pipes about 200 miles north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

One of these pipes was developed by BHP Billiton into the EKATI Diamond Mine (Canada’s original Diamond mine), which produced Canada’s very first commercial diamonds in 1998.

Mining, Production and Ethics

Enter the Arctic Diamond – These diamonds appeal particularly to those of us who have a deep concern about environmental issues, human rights issues and are eager to support a growing industry in their own country.

They are produced from diamond mines that have some of the world’s top environmental standards. Along with the proceeds of the mines going to very real very legitimate companies instead of organizations who have recovered the gemstone through forced labor, theft or other indecent forms of exploitation. Another important part of Arctic diamond mining is the certification process which allows the stones to be tracked from the mine through not only manufacturing but to wholesaling and directly to the retail consumer.

A number of the diamonds that have been mined and cut in Canada are chronicled and have their certificate number laser-inscribed on their girdle along with a trade logo that could be of a maple leaf, polar bear, CanadaMark symbol, or the words
“Ice on Fire.”

This inscription reassures consumers of the origin of their diamond, connects it to the certificate, and has been a wildly successful marketing tool.

Grand Scale Diamonds of the Arctic

One of the largest Arctic Diamonds unearthed named the “Firefox” it an oddly shaped 187.7 carat of sheer incandescent beauty. “It’s a rare find, a really rare find.” That was the company’s marketing statement when showing off Foxfire to prospective buyers on a tour across the globe promoting it as the largest gem-quality diamond ever found in North America.

The name comes from an aboriginal description of the Northern Lights, it’s rough translation undulating fox’s tail. Foxfire escaped being crushed 210 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories in the Diavik Mine.

The Diavik Mine is a very remote area on Earth, surrounded by many rocks and far far too many lakes to keep count, with hefty caribou and massive grizzly bears will likely be your only neighbours accompanied by vast white nothingness all around. In the 9 long mudane months of winter, daylight lasts fewer than six hours and the temperature can drop to an alarming minus 50 Celsius.

Formation

Diavik was the second diamond mine in Canada to produce diamonds. It is owned by the Harry Winston Diamond Corporation and Diavik Diamond Mines Incorporated. Diavik exists today the due to molten rock called kimberlite.

This rock pushed its way 160 kilometers up through many small and large cracks in the Earth over 60 million years ago and erupted high into the air, cascading diamonds all around the surrounding land. As time passed, the stones were forced back down into the volcanic pipes, which were burnished by glaciers and finally topped with water. The oddly shaped Foxfire was hidden beneath the lake where most gems in the Northwest Territories tend to conceal themselves.

Arctic diamond mines have enjoyed tremendous success in the first 20 years of production. The diamonds produced by these mines are more often than not favored by the consumers who value stones that originate from mines that are environmentally responsible and free of human conflict. It is assuring to know that if you should decide to indulge in diamonds, you can indeed do so in an ethical manner investing in that of a majestic Arctic Diamond.

Tilmorrow,
Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,

LYLE

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