The weight unit for diamonds is called 'carat', whereby one carat equals approximately 0.2 grams. In Elisabeth Bay, located nearly 30 kilometres from Kolmanskop, about 1000 carats, that is around 200 grams, of rough diamonds were extracted daily. To achieve this, many waggons full of diamond-bearing sand and gravel had to be brought in to the recovery facilities. The material was then screened and washed in huge drums. Normally, 10 tons of sand contained only 1 to 2 carats of diamonds. Today, Elizabeth Bay, like Kolmanskop, is a ghost town. However, although very picturesque, the place is only allowed to be visited with a special permit. As a new recovery plant began operation nearby, Elisabeth Bay is situated in a strictly guarded diamond prohibited-zone. Visitors who apply for a permit must prove that they have no criminal record.
Top: The ghost town houses of Kolmanskop, Namibia. Left: Remnants of the old diamond factory in Elizabeth Bay, Namibia.
In 1908, Luederitz experienced the diamond fever. People rushed into the Namib desert hoping to make a fast fortune. Within two years, a town, complete with a casino, school, hospital and exclusive residential buildings, sprang up in the barren sandy desert. The diamond-bearing gravel was screened and washed in huge recovery plants. Over 1000 kilos of diamonds were extracted before World War I. The amount of gemstones greatly diminished after the war. Furthermore, considerably larger diamonds were found to the south near Oranjemund, causing Kolmanskop to become a ghost town.