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Rock to Ring: Diamonds in Siberia

My Photo scholarship 2011 entry

Worldwide | Tuesday, 8 November 2011 | 5 photos

Diamonds conjure up images of war-torn Africa in many people's minds - and certainly not the freezing tundra of Siberia.

Yet more than 25% of the world's diamonds - including some of the purest gemstones ever seen - are dug deep from Siberian soil. The Russian company Alrosa recently topped De Beers as the world's largest diamond producer - and I have been lucky enough in my capacity as a journalist to visit mines run by both companies in Siberia and Botswana respectively.

These pictures are from the isolated Yakutsk region of Siberia - just below the Arctic Circle and as far east as Beijing - where communities exist solely in sync with the mining industry and its infrastructure. It's a bleak and depressing place - something you don't associate with the cachet and celebrity of diamonds. For half the year, temperatures are below zero; roads are poor and buildings basic.

I feel the five contrasting images tell a balanced story of the diamond's journey from rock to ring; in this case, from a vast open mine in the middle of nowhere, to the ring on the finger of Russia's most famous pop singer. Reality is far from the end product.

As for me, I should be chosen because I live for the kind of opportunity I had here in Siberia. To do this permanently would be a dream. I think in pictures - but I also think in words. And when the two come together, the result can be something quite special. But despite a good eye, strong composition and originality, I lack technical skills, direction and a mentor.

You could say I was an uncut diamond - but alongside Jason Edwards on the World Nomads scholarship, I feel I could sparkle.

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