Mine worker x-rayed for diamond check, 1954


South African mine workers are being X-rayed before leaving diamond mines. A trained radiologist like the one shown in the picture can easily identify even the smallest diamond, which a would-be thief might try to carry out of the mine by placing it in his stomach.

At the end of each day's shift, miners must pass through an X-ray machine for inspection. Some miners would swallow the diamonds, even hiding them in self-made cuts in their legs.

Original caption from the Getty Archives: 10/27/1954—Kimberly, South Africa—All African mine workers are X-rayed before leaving the diamond mines. A trained radiologist like the one shown in the picture can easily identify even the smallest diamond, which a would-be thief might try to mine out of his stomach

According to a mine based in Botswana, 36% of workers smuggle diamonds by hiding them in the anus, 30% hide them between their buttocks, 14% use their socks and hair, 5% hide gems in their mouths. 2% place gems under their scrotum, 2% hide them in their clothes, 2% use their underwear and 10% use other means.

The X-ray machine that the radiologist is using to examine the miner is called a fluoroscope. Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses X-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the interior of an object.

In its simplest form, a fluoroscope consists of an X-ray source and a handheld fluorescent screen, between which a patient is placed (note the X-ray source behind the mine worker). Radiation protection is minimal, as the dangers of X-rays have not yet been fully recognized.

Since fluoroscopy involves the use of X-rays, fluoroscopic procedures carry the potential to increase the patient's risk of radiation-induced cancer (the radiologist also receives a dose of radiation).

The dose of radiation given to the patient depends largely on the size of the patient as well as the length of the procedure, with a typical skin dose rate reported to be 20-50mGy/min. Exposure times vary depending on the procedure being performed, but procedure times of up to 75 minutes have been documented.

Contrary to popular belief, diamonds are not rare or hard to find. They are not economically scarce because supply exceeds demand. To maintain the high price of diamonds, De Beers creates artificial scarcity by storing mined diamonds and selling them in small quantities.

The concept that engagement rings are an ancient tradition deeply embedded in human history in societies around the world is false. The idea of the diamond engagement ring is nearly a century old, and was invented by the De Beers cartel.

In the 1940s De Beers ran a long-running advertising campaign on the theme "Diamonds are forever". Over several decades, the company spent millions of dollars promoting the notion that diamonds symbolized romance and love.

The campaign included sending diamond lecturers into classrooms to target high school students, placing diamonds on the fingers of Hollywood stars, and suggesting stories to newspapers about how diamond rings symbolized romance.

Early photographs of the Kimberley diamond mine in the late 19th century
The first diamonds here were found in 1871 by Elric Braswell, members of Colesberg's "Red Cap Party" at the Vooruitzigt farm, which belonged to the De Beers brothers.

The ensuing scramble for claims led to the location being called New Rush, which was later renamed Elrick Land in 1873. From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the pit with picks and shovels, producing 2,720 kilograms (6,000 lb; 13,600,000 carats). Diamonds.

The Kimberley mine has a surface of 17 hectares (42 acres) and is 463 meters (1,519 ft) wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 meters (790 ft), but was then partially filled with debris, leaving its depth at about 215 meters (705 ft).

Since then about 40 m (130 ft) of water has accumulated, leaving a 175 m (574 ft) hole visible. Once above ground operations became too dangerous and unproductive, the alyricite pipes of the Alyric Mine were also mined underground to a depth of 1,097 meters (3,599 ft) by the De Beers company of Cecil Rhodes.

In 1872, a year after excavations began, the population of the diggers' camp reached approximately 50,000. As excavations progressed, many people died in mining accidents. Unsanitary conditions, lack of water and fresh vegetables as well as the extreme heat of the summer also took a toll.

On 13 March 1888, leaders of the various mines decided to combine the separate diggings into one mine under De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, with life governors such as Cecil John Rhodes, Alfred Beit and Barney Barnato.

This huge company worked on the Big Hole until it reached a depth of 215 meters, with a surface area of about 17 hectares and a circumference of 1.6 kilometers.

By 14 August 1914, when work on the mine ceased, more than 22 million tons of rock had been excavated, yielding 3,000 kilograms (14,504,566 carats) of diamonds. It was considered the largest hand-dug excavation on Earth.

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