Rough and smooth of the diamond jewellery trade
DIAMONDS have delighted and fascinated mankind for centuries - from the time when they were used as religious icons in ancient India to present day when they have come to represent everlasting love.
Beautiful myths surround diamonds, and some ancient cultures believed that they were tears of the gods or splinters of fallen stars.
Myths and symbolism aside, the diamond industry is a lucrative one and Africa is the world's largest producer of diamonds.
Tienie Barnes, principal of the Diamond Education College, has a long list of achievements and qualifications in the field of diamonds. He spoke to us about working as a diamond polisher and dealer.
Barnes became involved in the industry many years ago...
"I've always been fascinated by diamonds and after I left the army in the early 1960s I was offered a career as a diamond polisher," he says.
This was only the beginning for Barnes, who went on to become very successful in the diamond industry.
He says: "With hard work the sky is the limit. I started as a diamond polisher and went on to become a factory manager. In time I began my own factory and managed it for many years.
"I was also a very successful diamond trader and bought rough diamonds to cut and polish in my factory. In this capacity I travelled all over the world and visited many wonderful countries."
He continues: "At the moment I co-own a diamond education facility and have realised a dream that I didn't even know I had - to empower all races to be part of the very lucrative diamond industry."
As principal of the Diamond Education College Barnes derives a great sense of satisfaction from seeing his students succeed in the industry.
Working as a diamond polisher involves polishing rough diamonds into various shapes.
If you want to become a polisher you can either enter into a three-year learnership (previously known as an apprenticeship) with a cutting factory or attend a six-month cutting and polishing course at the Diamond Education College.
Diamond polishing can be considered to be an art form and Barnes says "creating the perfect piece of art from a rough and insignificant piece of diamond is very rewarding".
Diamond dealers buy rough diamonds from various sources and sell them to other dealers and cutting factories, or export them to other countries.
To follow the path of a diamond dealer you could start by attending a Rough Diamond Evaluation and Grading Course at the Diamond Education College.
To be a successful dealer you need to be an honest, self-confident person with good entrepreneurial and negotiation skills.
While diamond dealers generally work in their own offices, they also have to be prepared to spend a lot of time travelling on dusty back roads in order to visit diamond diggers who operate far from civilisation.
Though this aspect of dealing can be tiring, finding a "perfect" rough diamond in terms of size, shape and clarity, and being able to negotiate the best deal with the seller, is very rewarding.
For anyone interested in this fascinating and lucrative field, Barnes advises prospective students to choose a credible place of study. - sacareerfocus