On the 11th of March a group of Nationwide Jewellers, from Australia and New Zealand, met in Johannesburg,South Africa to commence what was to become the most amazing journey on the trail of diamonds.

The group of 22 flew into Gabarone, Botswana which is fast becoming the New Diamond Capital of the World. Since Nationwide visited in September 2011 the cutting and polishing factories in Botswana have grown from 16 to 21 creating more jobs and more added value for the people of Botswana.

Additionally, DeBeers have announced that from the end of 2013 the'Sight Meetings', traditionally held in London, will be held in Gabarone. it is estimated that US $6 billion of diamonds will be traded annually.

The Nationwide Jewellers group was given a guided tour of the enormous Jwaneng Mine where a fourth Kimberlite pipe has been discovered recently. Jwaneng is the most productive mine in the world and this new discovery plus new technology will keep this mine at the top of the world for the foreseeable future.

We were also allowed access to the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) building which opened in 2008 and was purpose built for the sorting and valuing of diamond rough.
It is impossible to estimate the value of the rough diamonds our group saw in this complex. it is breathtaking to see the high tech initial-sorting machines, with thousands of carats of rough being poured into them for the first sort. Every diamond crystal is then hand sorted by highly trained experts.

On the second floor of the DTCB, where the larger stones were being separated by colour and clarity, the Nationwide group was fortunate enough to see a good quality crystal weighing 158.0 ct. The value of this one piece of rough was estimated to be well in excess of US$1 million.
Virtually next door to the DTCB the group visited the Hearts & Arrows Cutting Factory which cuts only round Ideal cuts and is an affiliate of Excelco NV a Diamond Trading Company Sightholder.

Production at H&A Cutting has been increased and more local staff are employed with overseas trainers. Several members of the training team have been brought from H & A Thailand to assist in training locals, in the highly skilled profession of diamond cutters.
The rough diamond crystal goes through over 80 processes before it is fully facetted and polished and ready for sale. The quality control and supervision ensures the highest standard of production which makes Hearts & Arrows the premium diamond brand in the world.

The group left Botswana with their heads buzzing having followed the diamond trail from the mine,to sorting and through the cutting and polishing processes. It was time for some R & R.

The group enjoyed two nights at the beautiful Tau Game Reserve in South Africa.There we completed four game drives and were surprised at a 'Bush Dinner' under the stars, complete with African dancers and entertainers.

Between Game Drives the group visited the local village and primary school where the Headmaster arranged a performance by the choir and dance group.The group visited the classrooms and enjoyed quality time with the children involving lots of photos and impromptu games.

It was then back to work for those flying to Antwerp in Belgium where we sought the best quality and value in diamonds from four of the best dealers in Antwerp. Many of these diamonds purchased were to fill orders taken prior to the commencement of the trip.

This group of Jewellers has been privileged to follow the journey of the diamond from the Jwaneng Mine to marking, cutting, polishing, selling and then to the made up jewellery we sell in our stores. It has been a remarkable trail to follow and an opportunity not available to all in our fascinating industry.

Thank you to Barry and the members of the AA 2013 Club.