Jagersfontein, Free State

jagersfontein

Jagersfontein on the southern Free State Horizon Route.

The dusty little southern Free State dorp of Jagersfontein is the oldest diamond mining town in the world. Driving through its dilapidated streets, you’d never guess that diamond experts have discovered rocks here that could originate from 400 kilometres below the Earth’s surface, in the heart of the planet’s upper mantle.And did you know that American gangster Al Capone used to prefer wearing diamonds from Jagersfontein above all other jewels?

But Al’s “Jagers Rock” was nothing compared to the 972-Carat marvel called the Excelsior, a blue-white diamond that eventually made its way into Queen Victoria’s crown.

And do you know the one about the gardener who found a very big diamond in his boss’s backyard? He stashed it in his church coat for two months and then let his conscience get the better of him by handing it over to the cops. But he was finally rewarded for his honesty – they paid him out 30 percent of what the diamond was worth.

When you’re in Jagers, look out for the silver-painted lion-headed fire hydrants dotted about the place. In the old days a special thruppence-coin would get you three gallons of Adam’s Ale.

And if you’re passing, pop in for a cup of coffee with Gil Vermaak at the Glaasstudio complex, where they and their local crafters make French wire craft and stained glass windows and lamps much-beloved by foreign markets.

The newly-refurbished Jagersfontein Golf Club has one of the Free State’s most pleasant courses, but its charm goes far beyond the herding of a little white ball into a tin cup. Go there on a Saturday night, meet the friendly locals, have a drink at the bar and feel the real charm of Jagersfontein.

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