The first South-African diamonds
In the 1860's the residents of the different South-African states lived in simplicity with livestock and limited agriculture. To these people diamonds were something unknown.
Near the end of 1866 one farmer DaniŽl Jacobus Jacobs's sons, probably the fifteen year old Erasmus Stephanus, brought home a shiny little stone which was soon to be classified as South-Africa's first diamond. They were from the farm De Kalk near Hopetown(64 km from where the Orange- and Vaalriver converge.)
Jacobs's neighbour, Schalk van Niekerk, noticed the bright stone among the childern's toys. Since Van Niekerk had been a collector of colourful stones, Jacobs decided to give it to him as a gift.
John O'Reilly, a hunter and trader, visited Van Niekerk a few weeks later. When he saw the stone he offered to establish what type it was. Using standerd mail he then sent it to an amature minerologist, dr. William G. Athertone who identified it as a diamond of 21,25 carats. Garrad & Co. in London confirmed that indeed it was a diamond worth 500 pond. Because this was the first diamond found in South-Africa, it was called the Eureka.
It was sold to a Cape Governor, Philip Wodehouse in December 1867. It can currently be seen at the Open Mine Museum in Kimberley, South-Africa.
Star of South-Africa
A 83,5 carats white diamond was discovered by a shepard on a farm called Sandfontein, near Schalk Van Niekerk's farm, in March 1869. This diamond was called the Star of South-Africa.
One of the shepard's family members showed the stone to Van Niekerk who imediatly recognised it as a diamond. Van Niekerk gave the shepard 500 sheep, 10 oxen and a horse for the diamond. He then sold it to an enterprise, Lilienfield Brothers, in Hopetown for 11500 pond, thus becoming the first person to make his fortune with diamonds in South-Africa.
The Star of South-Africa was the cause of great excitement all over the world. By the end of 1869 a group of diggers from Natal came to Klipdrift by the banks of the Vaalriver. By January 1870 they've discovered soil very rich in diamonds. This led to the first diamond-rush during 1870 as well as the establishment of many diggers around the river.
On the farm Koffiefontein, 100 km from the riverdiggings, a diamond was discovered in July 1870. In August that same year a 52 carats diamond was found on a neighbouring farm, Jagersfontein. Diamond prospecting, discovering and developement soon moved to what is known today as Kimberley.
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