This thesis examines how individuals and households of Kao and Liqhobong villages in Lesotho responded to economic challenges resulting from, amongst other factors, the implementation of structural adjustment policies; a decline in work opportunities for Basotho migrants in South Africa; the wider collapse of the regional mining complex, and; continued failure in developing agricultural production. More specifically, the study focuses on individuals and households implicated in unrecognised and unlicensed artisanal diamond mining and who use such mining, in the midst of these economic challenges, as a supplementary means of income or livelihood diversification. Artisanal diamond mining in Lesotho is a livelihood for rural households that is masked by the dominant representation of Lesotho as a labour reserve. Making use of the 'moral economy' and 'human economy' approaches, the thesis explores how artisanal miners in Lesotho engage in diamond digging and selling. It also investigates the constraints they face in a sector that was heavily regulated historically and remains so in post-independence Lesotho, a state which is itself constrained by a regional and global context that makes it difficult to raise the living standards of its citizens. In order to understand the responses of individuals and households in the implicated villages, the thesis combines an historical with an ethnographic approach. As such it examines the conditions artisanal diamond miners have operated under from the 1950s to 2014 when fieldwork for this thesis was conducted. It looks at how artisanal miners and artisanal mining collectives with their own moral economies negotiated the contestation over natural resources with the Lesotho state and international commercial mining companies. In doing so it investigates how the artisanal miners positioned themselves in relation to the law; claims to ownership over land; the international market for diamonds; and society. As an economic activity artisanal diamond mining is viewed in relation to the larger social processes in which it is embedded and from which it derives meaning. As such this thesis tells a story of conflict, violence and resistance; a story that remains pertinent, given the current debates about economic democracy in contexts of natural resource wealth. In my analysis, I pay particular attention to the role of women in ASM in Lesotho.