Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
The diamond processing was very troublesome and the screening process was complex.
Li Du went into the workshop to have a look. The workers had sharp eyes. The raw diamonds that were selected for cutting and grinding into jewelry could not have a crack or any kind of impurity.
The workers were the backbone of a diamond mine, and each was treated well and respected by the mine’s owners, who had a good relationship with them.
In addition to the workers who selected the perfect rough stone, there were also some people of slightly lower status who were responsible for the selection of small diamonds and could use the mechanical screening for assistance.
A large number of raw stones were continuously sent to the operating table of the screening workers for manual selection. The defective stones would be sent to a different operating table for evaluation by another group of people.
Li Du and the others were lucky. They were just in time to see a big diamond come out of the oven. It had to be ten carats in size and was quite rare.
“How much do you think it’s worth?” asked the lion hunter, staring at the diamond in delight.
A ten-carat diamond was a real luxury, and would surely end up in the hands of a star, a rich man or a powerful politician.
Li Du knew the answer to this and said, “It’s worth millions of dollars in today’s market, but with Winston, it could be worth twice as much.”
The lion hunter was one of Harry Winston’s partners, but not just with the Winston group.
Diamonds were a luxury that had to auctioned off to sell at a good price. Therefore, every time the lion hunter got a good diamond, he contacted several luxury companies to make an inquiry.
Upon hearing Li Du’s answer, the lion hunter laughed and said, “I don’t care how you pack it. I only care how much money it could give me.”
He was experienced in the business, and very astute. He cleverly diverted the topic Li Du started. Obviously, he would not make any promises to the Winston group.
Africans believed in one thing when it came to business: that there were no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, only permanent interests.
Large diamonds were carefully packed into a safe, while ordinary small rough stones were separately packaged in a double layer of white paper.
After weighing a bag of rough stones, a skillful woman would record the condition of the stones, using a computer. This would be the identification of the rough stones, just like the abalone brand of black gold.
In the diamond trade industry, each package of such raw stones was called a “hand” after being valued. The unit was a “hand” and two packages were two “hands”.
Diamonds varied in weight from 20 carats to 100 carats. Every week, the lion hunter shipped about ten “hands” of diamonds around the world. After each “hand” was bought, the jeweler would send it to Antwerp, Tel Aviv or India, where it would be cut into finished diamonds for further processing.
This was a business process that Li Du didn’t need to know about. That was Cole’s job.
The lion hunter brought Li Du to the mine that day because it was Friday. Every Friday, his mine would ship out diamonds.
In the afternoon, an armored truck arrived at the mine to transport the diamonds.
The lion hunter opened the wide armored truck to show Li Du that the strong body of the car was made of iron cages. The cages were welded tightly and filled with packs of diamonds.
Here, of course, were industrial synthetic diamonds and crystal rhinestones, with real diamonds mixed in, and only the lion hunter and the person who collected the shipping would know which cage contained the real diamond.
The lion hunter got into the car and put the diamonds away. He waved and the motorcade left.
Seeing the armored car loaded with machine guns, Li Du asked, “Is the transportation dangerous? Why do you even need an armed escort?”
The lion hunter laughed and said, “Every year, to protect these diamonds, I kill at least a hundred people. Do you know how crazy some people get when it comes to diamonds?”
Li Du was shocked. “God, that crazy?”
The lion hunter nodded. “All the gangs in South Africa organize armed raids on diamonds. There are desperate lunatics, gamblers, drug addicts, kids who don’t know what to do with their lives. Too many people are trying to get at these stones. Why do you think I said it costs so much to mine diamonds and get them to you? I’m not looking for an excuse to raise the price, man, but that’s the truth.”
The diamond escort was gone, and the visit of Li Du and the others was over.
During this visit, he learned about the diamond mining process, saw the people of South Africa, and learned more about the difficulties of finding diamond mines.
It was getting late and they could not leave. They had to stay there.
The lion hunter took them to eat at the canteen. The working environment at the mine was tough, but the food was good. There were several large and small restaurants.
Dinner consisted of five dishes: fried meat, barbecue, roast chicken, fried fish, and broth, and there were also bread and butter, cake and so on.
The workers had been laboring all day and looked exhausted. Each of them got two cans of cold beer.
As they stood in line, Li Du saw the lion hunter being served a beer by the same waiter who served them a meal. It was a Budweiser black classic.
Seeing this, Li Du asked curiously, “Why do they give us cheaper beer? Do you prefer the taste of black classic?”
The lion hunter said, “Who told you that the black classic is cheaper than the black craft brew?”
Li Du wondered, “Isn’t it?”
The lion hunter said, “If the black brew is expired and the black classic is fresh, which one would you prefer?”
Li Du stopped talking. The lion hunter was such a cheapskate that he bought expired beer for the miners, not that they cared. Most of them didn’t even know beer had a shelf life.
After a day at the mine, Li Du and the others left by helicopter the next morning and headed southeast to the tribe of the lion hunter, where they would be entertained further.
The lion hunter was a Zulu. This tribe was an important part of South African society, mainly distributed in the province of Natal, in addition to the population of eastern Lesotho and southeastern Swaziland.
This time, the place they were going to was in the Natal region, where the lion hunter had grown up. He had deep feelings for the tribe, and would take important clients to South Africa with him.