While prospectors have been looking for gems in Canada since at least the 1960s, diamond-rich areas were not discovered in the country until 1991, when the first economic diamond deposit was discovered in the Lac de Gras area of the Northern Territories. Since then, the country has quickly become one of the world leaders in diamond production.
Canadian diamonds are prized not only for the high quality of the diamonds themselves, but also because of the nation's highly ethical approach to the industry. All diamonds mined in Canada are guaranteed to be conflict-free, and indeed Canada has long been one of the most vocal supporters of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, designed to stem the diamond trade's contribution to violence and war.
Diavik Mine, located in a remote part of Canada's Northwest Territories, is one of the world's most productive open-pit diamond mines. It produces around eight million carats per year - that's 1.6 metric tonnes of diamonds, and represents about six per cent of the world's supply. The nearby Snap Lake Mine is owned by diamond-mining giant De Beers, the company's first mine outside of Africa, and produces around 1.4 million carats annually. Other major diamond mines in Canada include Ekati Mine, Victor Mine and Jericho Mine.
All diamonds mined and cut in Canada's Northwest Territories are laser-inscribed with identification numbers so that buyers and retailers can be assured that the stones have been mined and traded ethically. Canada also has stringent rules regarding its mines' effects on local habitats and ecosystems; its diamonds are mined to the highest environmental standards in the world. A large proportion of employees in the mines are of Canadian Aboriginal origin, so the industry is also helping to support and bring prosperity to the region's indigenous people.