Did you know?
Diamonds are measured in carats. The name comes from the carob seed once used as the standard for weighing precious stones. One carat weighs 0.2 grams.
When a 15-year-old farm boy named Erasmus Jacobs picked up a shiny stone under a tree near a town called Hopetown, on the Orange River in the Northern Cape region of South Africa back in 1867, he had no idea that his discovery was about to spark off an enormous diamond rush.
Or that the diamond, which became known as Eureka, would lead to the establishment of the city of Kimberley.
And that Kimberley, in turn, would lend its name to kimberlite, the rock formed in volcanic pipes in which these precious stones were formed.
You can learn more facts like these and see how diamonds are crafted into beautiful jewellery at the Cape Town Diamond Museum, located on the first floor of the Clock Tower Centre at the V&A Waterfront.
A small display tells you how diamonds became the ultimate romantic gift; about famous characters like Barney Barnato and Cecil John Rhodes, who shaped South Africa’s history; and how to judge the value of a diamond by its clarity, cut, colour and carat.
For a time after the initial discovery of that first South African diamond, 95% of the world’s production took place around Kimberley, at diggings that were as chaotic as they were profitable.
Today things are different. South African sales are strictly regulated to ensure the diamonds are ethically sourced, and the Clock Tower is a good place to do a bit of diamond shopping.
The Cape Town Diamond Museum is a non-profit venture developed by a leading diamond designer, Yair Shimansky, who wanted to give something back to the city.
Once you have been through the formal section of the display, you can enter the workshop (which doesn’t technically form part of the museum) and see highly skilled cutters and polishers behind glass, working on designs patented by Shimansky himself, among them My Girl, Brilliant 10, Evolym (My Love spelled backwards) and Eight Hearts.
After your visit, wander around the Waterfront, have a bite to eat at the water’s edge and contemplate that Eureka moment back in 1867, that was to shape South Africa’s history in fundamental ways.