On the current season of Discovery’s hugely popular reality series Gold Rush, America’s favorite bumbling crew of perpetual amateur gold miners have abandoned the frozen tundra of Alaska and the Yukon to look for gold in the sweltering South American rainforests of Guyana. But, we’re almost completely done with the season and Todd Hoffman and his crew have managed to find just a few ounces of gold after spending who knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars to get new equipment to his claim in a remote part of the jungle that has apparently already been mined at least once before. Essentially, they have bankrolled the world’s most expensive bog-in — which I suppose would count as a small victory to some. (Yee-haw!)
One person who doesn’t view the Hoffman crew’s costly and time consuming endeavors a victory of any sort is the claim owner, who we saw on a recent episode mandating that Todd and his crew of old miner shoe miners (if you’ve been watching you’ll know what that means) find $19,000 worth of gold or else they would get booted from the claim.
Needless to say, Hoffman Inc. was unable to find any gold at all, pretty much. But, Todd revealed that they had found something better… diamonds! (You might recall earlier in the season when Todd, with the help of veteran diamond miner — or actually, Guyana jungle tour guide — Tony Melville, found a small diamond and uttered his infamous “This is a game changer!” catchphrase before then purchasing a $20,000 diamond jig thing.)
So of course the claim owner
kicked the Hoffman crew off the claim gave the Hoffman crew another chance, this time replacing the $19,000 worth of gold demand with a 30 diamond minimum. Todd and the crew came close to reaching the 30 diamond count, albeit with some pretty meager (very meager, judging from the claim owner’s representative’s reaction when he saw them) specimens, so of course the claim owner kicked the Hoffman crew off the claim told Todd and his crew they could keep mining until the end of the season.
Soooooo…. The obvious question for me is, What are Guyana diamonds worth? How do 30 diamonds compare to $19,000 in gold? And just how much of Todd’s more than a half-million-dollar investment can he expect to get back if he actually starts finding a decent number of diamonds?
According to a 2010 mining report from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the “average value per carat for Guyana’s rough diamonds in 2010 was US$156.09, an increase of 4.7 percent. For the last quarter of 2010 the average export price per carat was US$188.46.”
Another report posted on minelinks.com in 2011 by geological engineer Rafal Swiecki says “the average price for Guyanese diamonds is between US$100 to 120 per carat.”
If we average those figures together it means that the average diamond in Guyana is priced at approximately $144 per carat. (It’s important to remember that diamond pricing isn’t like gold pricing where each ounce is the same. For diamonds, the larger the stone, the more it is worth per carat. We’re doing some serious rough guessing here!)
The next step is to get a clear notion of exactly what a carat is. Here is an illustration that may actually be smaller than reality depending on the resolution on your screen, but it has millimeter and inch rulers on the side that should help you get a good idea:
Going by that chart, a one carat round diamond is approximately 6.5mm in diameter, or just over a quarter of an inch. If you look at a ruler or tape measure I think it will be pretty obvious to you that the sparkly specs the Hoffman crew have been able to find so far are nowhere near a carat, and are closer to half a carat (and I believe that’s being generous). So, correct me if I’m wrong, but if we assume the diamonds the Hoffmans are finding are averaging a half carat each then 30 diamonds would total 15 carats.
So, 15 carats at the $144/carat price we came up with earlier for Guyana diamonds equals… $2,160?!? Wow. Is that right? So they would need to find more than 135 carats just to pay off the $20,000 diamond jig thing, not to mention the gas needed to run it for the five weeks it would take for the Hoffmans to find that many diamonds!
Ummmmm… I feel very confident that I could spend half a million dollars and find at least $250,000 worth of resellable diamonds down at Jared’s. And that’s without any risk of malaria or snake bite or whatever other disease might come from wearing flip flops in a rainforest!
All of that being said, I’m guessing you (like me) will be tuned in Friday night at 9/8c on Discovery for the latest Hoffmaniacal drama, as well as the adventures of the actual gold miners remaining up north and seemingly having productive seasons.