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Mining Diamonds

Anyone can go to a jewelry store and bring home South African diamonds, but how many people can say they got their sparkler from an actual mine? At Cullinan Diamond Mine, not only can you buy diamonds, but you can get custom-made pieces from the resident jeweler, though don't expect your piece to include the world's largest diamond—the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond unearthed here in 1905 is now in the Crown Jewels in London. Mine tours are offered every day, ranging from the standard tour (R60; weekdays at 10 AM and 2:30 PM, weekends at 10 AM) to the four-hour underground tour (R440; daily at 8 am. We suggest the underground tour—you experience what it's like being underground and see the miners' working conditions. You must reserve tours at least three days in advance; children under 16 are not permitted.

Mine: Oak Ave., west of Olienhout Ave.; Cullinan Tours:, 95 Oak Ave., Cullinan, 1000. 012/734–0260.

Cullinan has a series of delightful tea gardens to choose from. For pleasant outdoor dining, the Whispering Oaks Garden Café serves breakfast, lunches, and homemade sweets. Closed on Tuesday. 94 Oak Ave., Johannesburg. 012/734–2496.

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