Diamonds from Dachine, French Guiana, are unique among worldwide diamond populations. The diamonds were transported to the surface in an unusual ultramafic extrusive magma with an affinity to boninite or komatiite, which was emplaced within an arc geological setting at ~ 2.2 Ga. Dachine diamonds have internal and external morphologies indicative of relatively rapid growth from carbon oversaturated fluids or melts, and exhibit internal features consistent with residence in a high-strain environment. On the basis of nitrogen (N) defects the diamonds are categorized as Type Ib–IaA. The unusually low aggregation state of N places severe constraints on the thermal history of the diamonds, effectively ruling out derivation in convecting mantle. The carbon and N isotopic compositions of Dachine diamonds are consistent with a sedimentary source of carbon, with the majority of diamonds having δ13
C values < − 25‰ and δ15
N values > + 4‰. The primary carbon was presumably deposited on an early Proterozoic seafloor. Sulphide inclusions have low Ni and Cr and are comparable to lithospheric eclogitic-type sulphide inclusions. Three garnet and one clinopyroxene inclusion are also eclogitic in composition, and one garnet inclusion has a majorite component indicating an origin around 250 km depth. The silicate inclusions are highly depleted in many incompatible trace elements (e.g. LREE, Nb, Hf, Zr), and modelling indicates an eclogitic source lithology that contained a LREE-enriched trace phase such as epidote or allanite, and an HFSE-rich phase such as rutile. Four of the five inclusions are unusually enriched in Mn, as well as Ni and Co, and modelling suggests a protolith with a bulk composition of subducted normal MORB plus about 10% ferromanganese crust component. We suggest a model wherein Dachine diamonds precipitated from remobilized sedimentary carbon at the slab–mantle interface from liquids derived ultimately by deserpentinization of slab peridotite at depths of ~ 200 to 250 km. These fluids may also trigger melting in wedge peridotite, resulting in a volatile-rich ultramafic melt that transports the diamonds rapidly to the surface. The process of diamond formation and exhumation from the slab–mantle interface occurred in a Paleoproterozoic subduction zone and over a very limited timespan, likely less than a million years.