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Diving for diamonds

Posted in SPORTS & ACTIVITIES By Maggie O' Sullivan

Tweezer holding diamond/thinkstock©123dartist/thinkstockphotos

Recently engaged or about to celebrate a special anniversary? You could, of course, simply get yourself along to Tiffany’s and choose a diamond in a ready-made setting. Alternatively, you could hop on a plane to Cape Town, check into Ellerman House and be among the first to sign up for the boutique hotel’s exclusive new diamond safari: not only will you get to dive for an uncut diamond, you will be able to choose a setting for it, too.Ellerman House, Bantry Bay, SAEllerman House is a beautiful, privately owned hotel in Bantry Bay, 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Cape Town. With an exceptional South African art collection and a cutting-edge Wine Gallery (boasting a wall filled with soil from 100 wine farms), this is one of the most exclusive boutique properties in South Africa. Launching in September, the diamond safari is a joint venture between Ellerman House and Benguela Diamonds, which not only mines and dives its own diamonds, but also has its own cutting works and goldsmith.Diamond Safari, Ellerman HouseThe tour begins with a private charter flight to Port Nolloth where guests are transported to their base for the day: a luxurious villa (above) between Port Nolloth and McDougall's Bay. The real fun begins after breakfast when guests with a current PADI Open Water Diver certificate are invited to dive the fairly shallow waters and trawl the seabed gravel. The gravel is then separated from heavier gemstones, such as garnets, olivines and diamonds. After lunch back at the villa, it’s time to sort through the morning’s pickings and guests may choose a rough diamond to be cut, polished and set into a piece of jewellery which will be delivered to the hotel, made up and certified, in just three days.And the cost? It’s not cheap: R215,000 (£11,405) for six guests, including road transfers, return air transfer by private jet, all food and beverage plus a Dom Perignon Experience at Ellerman House at the end of the day, but excluding any diamonds purchased from Benguela Diamonds and the cost of designing and manufacturing a piece of jewellery.Rooms at Ellerman House, meanwhile, are from R7,000 (£371) a night in low season. Still, if you’re reading this in the US, the rand is at an all-time low against the dollar, so a diamond safari at Ellerman House is actually something of a bargain.

 

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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