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The power of stories

Diamonds in Yakutsk.

When I woke up in Yakutsk, the metropolis of Russia’s Far East, and planned the day with our host, Egor Makarov, I never expected that a few hours later his recommendations would take me into the middle of the diamond industry.

At the top of just another staircase and through a gate made of rebar, workers in Yakutsk have been polishing diamonds for decades. They pass simple folds of white paper from room to room, and each one holds a single stone.

Raw stones undergo a transformation here. Some are so small I can hardly pinch them between my fingers to pick them up, but for someone, somewhere, each of these flecks of earth, once cut and smoothed and shined, will become an object of desire.

The hallways are grey, the light is dim, some workers handle upwards of 100 stones a day, but out on the streets, these tiny projects are displayed on billboards of beautiful women in evening gowns. A reminder of the power of stories.

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