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The origin of the big hole, Kimberley

The big hole, Kimberley. Photo: Alamy
The big hole, Kimberley. Photo: Alamy

A century and a half ago, much of the Northern Cape was hot, desolate farmland. The landscape was waiting patiently for somebody to stumble across its secret, and when they did, it led to the most profitable diamond rush of the century.

In 1867, 15-year-old Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs picked up a pretty pebble on his family’s farm De Kalk, near Hopetown. The rock found its way to a geologist in Grahamstown, Dr William Atherstone, who classified it as a 21.25-carat diamond. The stone was dubbed the Eureka.

This kicked up some excitement, but it wasn’t until a shepherd, known only as Booi, discovered what would become The Star of Africa on the banks of the Orange River in 1869, that the diamond rush began.

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