Situated on the R706, 110km south-west of Bloemfontein, Jagersfontein can be described as nothing less than `priceless'. Founded in 1871 the town magically retains that pristine individuality of a flourishing mining village of yesteryear.
In 1870 the first diamond was found in Jagersfontein by a farmer with the name of De Klerk. This was about three years before Kimberley started, and it was also the first time a diamond was found in its mother stone - blue ground or as it's now known, Kimberlite.
This mine is actually the oldest diamond mine of its kind in the world. The diamond mining was done by pick, shovel and dynamite and so the miners of yesteryear created the world's biggest vertical handmade hole.
The Jagger jewel diamonds found here are famous for its exceptional quality. Of the ten biggest diamonds ever found in the world, two came from this mine. In 1893 a diamond of 972 carats was discovered and it was described as a stone of the purest water - today known as a blue white diamond. It was called the Excelsior. It is estimated that in present day terms the stone is worth R1.2 billion.
Two years later another stone of 640 carats of similar quality was found and named the Reitz. Later this stone was named the Jubilee.
Jagersfontein was a typical mining town of its time and it could offer its inhabitants all the pleasures and joys of similar towns elsewhere in the world. It had five big hotels and 34 bars, shops and businesses of all kinds, its own newspaper, turf club, theatre club and also a social life unequaled in the rest of the Orange Free State. It was the first town in the Free State to have electricity and a piped water supply.
After 34 years of open pit mining, underground mining by means of a vertical shaft and horisontal tunnels (drifts) started in 1913. During the 100 year life span of the mine several stoppages occurred like for instance during the two world wars and the great depression.
During this time Jagersfontein's mine produced 9.625 million carats of diamonds mostly of jewel quality. It is estimated that due to inefficient mining methods of the past a large proportion of diamonds from this pipe was not recovered.