Cape Town Diamond Museum

Marilyn Monroe summed it up when she sang: "Diamonds are a girl's best friend". These precious gemstones form one of the bastions of South Africa's economy. Diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867 and it wasn't long before the country was providing up to 95 percent of the world's supply.

A guided tour of the Cape Town Diamond Museum uncovers the mystery of this shiny jewel, delving into the history of the industry and showing how diamonds are formed, mined and processed.

Image courtesy Cape Town Diamond Museum

Diamonds were formed three-billion years ago by molecular-changing heat – around 1 300 °C – deep within the Earth’s crust. The Cape Town Diamond Museum is home to many interesting facts such as this one.

Located at the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Town Diamond Museum offers insight into the story of diamonds – a story that changed the course of history. How were diamonds formed? How were they discovered? How are they transformed from rough to the polished gems we admire so much?

The museum, which is also a non-profit organisation, is “dedicated to creating a new appreciation for diamonds” by presenting the amazing story of how they came to be and what we do with them.

The process of cutting and polishing is fascinating in itself, from marking and sawing to brillianteering, all of which ensure symmetry and perfect refraction. These are highly developed skills that have been refined over many years. In South Africa, diamonds have had a significant effect on the country’s economic and political landscape ever since the first discovery in 1867 (another topic that the museum explores in depth).

Of course, diamonds are best known for their aesthetic value, and the museum also explores the beauty of these objects. For example, a life-size replica of the Cullinan (the largest gem-quality diamond ever found), as well as the Hope, Excelsior and (the wonderfully-named) Eureka diamonds can be found at the museum, which traces their history and significance.

Extra info

Open from 09h00 to 21h00, 7 days a week

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This unique museum project takes visitors on a journey from when diamonds first began to form three billion years ago and their 150 km journey to the surface, following the unique path of South African diamonds from their origin in extinct volcanoes to the deposits along our coastline.  Learn about unique and rare gemstones, and see how jewellery has changed through thousands of years.  The story about South Africa’s mineral wealth is told, not only for diamonds, but also for our Platinum and Gold deposits.

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