The Wonder of Diamonds! – IELTS General Reading Passage

Read the text below and answers to the questions 28-40 on your answer sheet.

GT Reading: “The Wonder of Diamonds!”

Read the passage below and answer Questions 28-40.

The Wonder of Diamonds!

A.  Diamonds are not only one of the most precious natural materials in the world; they are also among the hardest. For centuries diamonds have been renowned the world over as a natural material with matchless physical attributes of superior abrasiveness and lustre.

B.  It is believed that the Greek word ‘adamas’, meaning ‘unbeatable’, transformed linguistically over time to the English version it is now known as diamond. Apparently, the ancient Greeks used the highly treasured adamas as a religious icon.  Prior to ancient Greece, diamonds were widely used as engraving tools to cut grooves into concrete surfaces. The popularity of diamonds among the masses started to increase at the beginning of the 19th century when their supply increased significantly. The cutting and polishing of diamonds were also improved upon at the time making them even more attractive for the masses. The rise of the world economy and, at the same time, persuasive advertising campaigns, combined to elevate diamonds to the status they have today. Today, about 130 million carats (around 26,000 kilograms) of diamonds are mined yearly fetching a combined value of some 9 billion USD.

C.  The central and southern regions of Africa combine to provide almost 50 percent of the world’s total diamond production. Significant sources of diamonds have also been discovered in both Brazil and Australia. Irrespective of where diamond mines are discovered, in reality, there are very few specialised diamond mining companies who do the actual mining. The main reason for this is because they must be given permission from respective governments to undertake the large-scale digging required – a very complex, bureaucratic process.

D.  Diamonds are mined through very sophisticated and complex processes. Diamond crystals are formed by high pressure and temperature deep within the earth. In time, volcanic ‘pipes’ called ‘kimberlite’ and ‘lamproite’ rock transport the diamonds to the earth’s surface. These rocks are composed of minerals such as olivine, phlogopite, pyroxene and garnet and a variety of other naturally occurring minerals, including diamonds. Experienced diamond miners know that when they discover kimberlite’ and ‘lamproite’ in the earth’s crust, there may very well be a rich source of diamonds not far away.

E.  Considering they are located almost 150kms below the earth, it is a modern engineering marvel how diamond-containing rocks are brought to the surface. Artificial volcanic forces are created beneath the area where diamonds lie via man-made pipes. These forces push the rocks upward in the same way a volcano erupts and ejects lava. The only difference, of course, is the force in the volcano occurs naturally whereas the forces generated in diamond mining are artificial. As the diamond is pushed toward the earth’s surface, a separation process occurs.  The technology used for the separation process is different from that of the extraction process – the former process requires man-made forces to move any and all rocks to the surface, while the latter focuses only on locating diamond-containing rock once it reaches the surface. Testing is conducted on the first few batches of rocks mined to determine whether the mine will be economically viable or not. Whether or not the mining will continue on a larger scale depends on the ratio of diamond-containing rocks to ordinary rocks that are mined. The more worthless rocks that are found in the test mining, the less economically viable the mine is for a larger-scale operation.

F.  From the deepest regions under the earth to the point where the diamonds finally reach the hands of the miners, the 4 C’s come to the fore. The 4 C’s are the four standards by which all diamonds are measured and judged.  The first C stands for Carat.  This refers to the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured.  One carat equals exactly 200 milligrams. The value of a diamond increases mainly in relation to carat weight and so, the other 3 C’s play a lesser role in determining the price of a diamond. Cut is the second determinant. As the term suggests, this is all about the art of transforming a rough diamond into a sparkling centerpiece. It requires significant technical knowledge, artistry and experience to cut a diamond. The dimensions and angles of a diamond depend on how it is cut.  The next C is colour. The colour of a diamond can change significantly depending upon the chemical combinations and structural formations of other minerals nearby as it is forming.  The influence of neighbouring minerals can result in a diamond ranging in colour from completely transparent, to bluish, and a host of colours in between. The final C is clarity, which is a measure of a diamond’s internal inclusions1. These naturally occurring inclusions determine the transparency of the diamond and according to how many there are, an inclusion rating is given. In addition to the 4Cs, fluorescence in a diamond is also considered. Fluorescence refers to the ability of a diamond to absorb invisible light and emit visible light.

G.  Although diamonds are extremely important for industrialists and a sure symbol of love between a husband and wife when joined in marriage, many environmental activists protest diamond mining.  For this reason, mining companies are often under pressure to minimise the negative effects of their mining activities. In fact, a large number of mining companies nowadays regularly publish their process details in order to demonstrate that they conduct their mining business in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

1) a naturally occurring imperfection (spot, cloud or fracture) in a diamond.

Questions 28 – 35

The passage has seven sections labelled A-G.

Which section contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 28-35 on your answer sheet.

NB.  You may use any letter more than once.

28.  the different areas in the world where diamonds are found
29.  diamond mining and good corporate citizenship
30.  the features of a diamond that determine the value
31.  a primary reason for the early increase in diamond popularity
32.  the creativity involved in beautifying diamonds
33.  a formula for deciding whether or not diamond mining should continue
34.  different minerals that exist with diamonds
35.  the organisations from whom companies receive permission to mine                             

Questions 36 – 40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the passage?

In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet, write

       TRUE     if the statement agrees with the information
       FALSE    if the statement contradicts the information
       NOT GIVEN         if there is no information on this

36.  Diamonds were first used for religious purposes.
37.  Bringing diamonds up from deep underground is quite a simple process.
38.  Diamond mining areas are decreasing in number.
39.  The colour of a diamond is determined by minerals close by.
40.  The 4 C’s are the only measures used to determine diamond value.

28. C
29. G
30. F
31. B
32. F
33. E
34. D
35. C
39. TRUE