Diamond cutters and other workers in the diamond industry cut and polish rough diamonds in such a way as to reflect maximum light.
Diamond cutting involves a number of stages, each requiring a specialised tradesman to do the job:
Sorter: Diamonds are first sorted by diamond sorters into various shapes, sizes, colours and qualities.
Marker / Designer: Diamond markers’ skills are similar to those of architects. Markers and designers decide what the final diamonds will look like when completed.
Polisher: There are an infinite number of ways in which a diamond may be polished and the decision as to how the diamond should be marked will be based on an attempt to maximise the value of the finished product.
Diamond Sawyer: Sawyers saw the diamond using copper discs spread with diamond powder and oil. Sawyers set stones in holders containing plaster. Stones are then placed in sawing machines and the lines on the diamonds carefully aligned with saw-blades.
Diamond Cutter: Cutters create perfectly round diamonds with the optimum diameter. Industrial diamonds are used to cut diamonds. Diamond cutters receive diamonds from sawyers to start the second phase of finishing off the rough diamond.
Cross Worker: Cross workers lay the foundation of the diamond and follow instructions to obtain the optimum value for finished products. The work is done on a polishing disc covered with diamond powder. The diamond is held in a clamp and 18 facets are polished one by one.
Brillianteer: The last process of refining the rough diamond is to polish it. The sharp edges of the top and eight angles are cut away so that in the end the brilliantly shaped diamond will have 58 facets which reflect light to give it its characteristic brilliance.
Nearly all diamond-cutting factories are located in the Witwatersrand area, resulting in these artisans living in or moving to that area.
There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:
1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.
2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.
3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.
All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.
For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.
The Diamond Education College and the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School offer courses in this field.
Diamond Education College
1 Skeen Boulevard
Tel: (011) 334-5917