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De Beers Group
IndustryMining and trading of diamonds
Founded1888; 131 years ago (1888)
FounderCecil Rhodes
Area served
Key people
Mark Cutifani (Chairman)
Bruce Cleaver (CEO)
ServicesDiamond marketing and promotion.
RevenueIncrease$6.1 billion (FY 2016)[1]
OwnerAnglo American
Number of employees

De Beers Group is an international corporation that specialises in diamond exploration, diamond mining, diamond retail, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. The company is currently active in open-pit, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea mining.[2] It operates in 35 countries and mining takes place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada. Until the start of the 21st century, De Beers effectively had total control over the diamond market as a monopoly.[3] Competition has since dismantled the complete monopoly, though the De Beers Group still sells approximately 35%[4] of the world's rough diamond production through its global sightholder and auction sales businesses.[5]

The company was founded in 1888 by British businessman Cecil Rhodes, who was financed by the South African diamond magnate Alfred Beit and the London-based N M Rothschild & Sons bank.[6][7] In 1926, Ernest Oppenheimer, an immigrant to Britain and later South Africa who had earlier founded mining company Anglo American plc with American financier J.P. Morgan,[8] was elected to the board of De Beers.[9] He built and consolidated the company's global monopoly over the diamond industry until his death in 1957. During this time, he was involved in a number of controversies, including price fixing and trust behaviour, and was accused of not releasing industrial diamonds for the U.S. war effort during World War II.[10][11]

In 2011, Anglo American took control of De Beers after buying the Oppenheimer's family stake of 40 percent for US$5.1 billion (£3.2 billion) and increasing its stake to 85 percent, ending the 80-year Oppenheimer control of the company.[12] In 2018, De Beers became the first diamond company to announce that it would track its diamonds using blockchain technology, though this technology has not yet been rolled out. [13]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Truth About Diamonds
  • ✪ De Beers
  • ✪ Blood Diamonds: De Beers and Sierra Leone


The Truth About Diamonds An expensive meal at a fancy restaurant, a declaration of romance, and a big, fat diamond ring- this is a pretty standard formula for an engagement proposal. After all, it has been ingrained in all of us that a diamond ring equals love and the bigger the diamond, the more love there must be. Well, believe it or not, diamonds really aren’t all that rare. In fact, the reason diamonds cost so much is more due to savvy (and sometimes unethical) business practices and incredibly successful advertising campaigns than the actual inherent value of the stone based on supply and demand, something anyone who has actually tried to sell a diamond quickly comes to realize. Here now is the story of how and why we all fell in love with diamonds. The first known diamonds discovered by humans happened about 700 or 800 BCE in India by the Dravidian people (who are still found today in southern India and Sri Lanka). In fact, this is where we get the unit of weight for diamonds, carats, from; they would weigh the diamonds in relation to the seeds of carob tree. Diamonds appear in ancient tales dating back to at least 2500 years ago, including ones involving Alexander the Great and Sinbad the Sailor. Pliny the Elder, in his 78 AD encyclopedia Natural History, also spoke of diamonds. Eastern traders brought them to Europe, along with silk, spices, and other exotic goods, and they were used as valuable trade items. But those ancient diamonds weren’t the stunning, brilliantly cut stones we know today. They were dirty, rarely cut or polished correctly, and were often quite dull. The dazzling stones we recognize from modern times are put through labor-intensive cutting and polishing (which is where much of the real, albeit relatively small, value of all but the largest of diamonds actually derives from). As Joan Dickinson’s book The Book of Diamonds puts it, diamonds could lie around unnoticed for decades in the ground of India before a “knowledgeable eye (could) spot a diamond in the rough.” Even with diamonds being found in the jungles of Brazil in the early 19th century, and including India’s contribution, the entire world production of gem diamonds was only a few pounds per year at this point. That all changed in 1869. Prior to 1869, South Africa’s main exports were wool and sugar, nothing that was rare or native exclusive to the region. There was really nothing there prior that interested Europe. (Hence why “The Scramble for Africa,” the nickname for the European takeover of Africa, didn’t begin until 1881.) So what changed? In 1866, a young Boer (a word referring to a South African farmer of Dutch or German descent) found a 22 carat diamond (for comparison, nearly half the size of the Hope Diamond) in a stream bed near Vaal River in modern-day South Africa. Three years later, an 83 carat diamond was found by a shepherd boy near the Orange River in South Africa. Nicknamed the “Star of South Africa,” the diamond touched off a rush in South Africa with the British leading the way. Soon after, four mines were dry-dug and the largest diamond deposit ever was found. The largest of these mines was called the Kimberley Mine, or the “Big Hole.” Diamonds came out of those mines by the ton. The value of land in the region, and subsequently the rest of Africa due to the hope that there were more diamonds to be found, shot up. A titanic struggle-turned-war for land began between European powers, most notably Britain, and the Boer population who lived in the region. For four months between December 1880 and March 1881, the First Anglo-Boer War raged. The British would end up winning, but at a much higher cost of manpower than originally thought. 408 British soldiers were killed, while only 41 Boers. 18 years later, the second Anglo-Boer war would commence with even greater casualties. Meanwhile, the fighting and the sheer amount of diamonds coming out of the South African mines were making the British owners of the mines quite nervous. The value of their product depended on scarcity and demand. With too many diamonds and a market fearful of the violence, the demand was dropping and value of diamonds went down. In the late 1880s, diamonds were essentially a semiprecious stone (equivalent to today’s turquoise or topaz) and many of the mines were at-risk of closing. Enter British native Cecil Rhodes who got his start renting water pumps to miners in 1869 at the beginning of the South African diamond rush. From the money earned, he bought up claims of land from smaller mining operations. When many small operations were closing and selling land due to the over-saturation of diamonds in the market, Rhodes was buying. Ignoring the more-established Kimberly Mine, he made the purchase that would send him into history. The old De Beer mine was owned by two Boer brothers, Johannes Nicolaas de Beer and Diederik Arnoldus. Rhodes bought it off them for, at the time, a reasonable price. As Rhodes’ empire continued to grow, the immensely wealthy Rothschild Family (or at least, their bank) providing some financial backing (it is unclear how Rhodes and the Rothschild knew each other), and as every other South African mine leveled off, the De Beers did not. In 1888, as diamond prices continued to fall, there were only a few mine owners left, including Rhodes and his De Beers mine. The remaining mine owners decided that the only way their industry would survive was, instead of competing with one another, to consolidate and form one giant mining company. The intention was to create a monopoly in the industry, centering all the production, mining, and lands in the hands of one corporation. And that corporation was De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd headed up by Cecil Rhodes. From that point forward, the De Beers Company was nearly the sole owner of every single South African mine. Rhodes and De Beers created individual subsidiaries and “trading companies,” to make it look like these were different companies operating independently. They were not and all were part of the parent De Beers Company. Today, these would be called shell corporations and would be illegal in most regions of the world. Essentially, what De Beers was able to do was to set one standard, or “fixed,” diamond price, with minimal fluctuation between their subsidiaries, and make it look like the market set the price. Now, the actual supply and demand value didn’t matter anymore because De Beers controlled all of the supply. As a 1982 The Atlantic article put it, “De Beers proved to be the most successful cartel arrangement in the annals of modern commerce.” Upon Cecil Rhodes’ death in 1902, De Beers owned ninety percent of the world’s (not just South Africa’s) diamond production, but after years of ruthless business practices, his company was about to be outsmarted. The Premier mine (later called the Cullinan mine, after the town it was located in) was one of the only mines not owned by De Beers, despite overtures from the company about buying it. The owners didn’t want to contribute to the De Beers monopoly, so instead they sold to independent dealers, the Oppenheimer brothers. In 1905, the largest rough diamond ever found was in the Premier mine, weighing in at an absurd 3,106 carats. Now, the Oppenheimer brothers, particularly Ernest Oppenheimer, were in business. Ernest Oppenheimer knew that, while his own Anglo American Corporation was doing well, no one would be able to defeat De Beers at this time. So, he took the expression “if you can’t beat them, join them” seriously. Using his newfound wealth, he bought enough shares of De Beers to land himself on the board of the company. By 1926, he was the second largest shareholder in the company, behind only Solly Joel. As it turned out, Joel and Oppenheimer were friends and had already conceived a plan where Oppenheimer would become chairman of the board. Oppenheimer did exactly this and renamed the company the Diamond Corporation. The Oppenheimers would hold control of the company until 2011. In 1938, the diamond industry was again in decline, thanks to the discovery of mines in Australia, Siberia, and Western Africa and the Great Depression reducing sales, which again saturated the market. So, Ernest sent his son, Harry, to New York City to meet with the ad agency N.W. Ayer, which was the same agency that helped their financial backer Morgan Bank. Together, they realized that the United States was a significantly under-tapped market for diamonds. They just need to figure out a way to convince Americans to buy their product. They did just that by using the happiest and, perhaps, occasionally most irrational of human emotions – love. Using newspapers, magazines, the new medium of movies, and even a series of lectures at high schools across the nation centered around diamond engagement rings, they constructed the illusion that diamonds equaled love, with a bigger (and more expensive) diamond meaning more love. “A Diamond is Forever” was shown in ads depicting young lovers getting married or on their honeymoon. (In truth, diamonds are easily shattered, burnt and turned into carbon dioxide with the help of an abundant supply of oxygen, chipped, etc.) These ads appeared everywhere, often using big name movie actors to foster this connection. And it worked – by 1944, the sale of diamonds had increased by 55 percent in the United States from just a few years before and were now inexorably tied to love and marriage, as well as being seen as a highly valuable item that would last forever. This idea of diamonds being “forever” and to be passed on from generation to generation was a particularly important notion. You see, as more and more diamonds were held by individuals, eventually there would be so many out there that if people started trying to sell them, the reality of the value would be discovered and the price of cut diamonds would also ultimately no longer be controllable by De Beers, something not lost on the company. Thus, diamonds not only had to be forever held by the individual, but the idea of buying a used diamond to show affection had to be firmly taboo. Harry Oppenheimer commented on all this in 1971: A degree of control is necessary for the well-being of the industry, not because production is excessive or demand is falling, but simply because wide fluctuations in price, which have, rightly or wrongly, been accepted as normal in the case of most raw materials, would be destructive of public confidence in the case of a pure luxury such as gem diamonds, of which large stocks are held in the form of jewelry by the general public. In any event, thanks to a virtual monopoly and perhaps the most effective ad blitz of all time, diamonds were here to stay and, again, De Beers could set its price, no matter if supply was high or low. In fact, the higher the price, the more love one was now demonstrating. De Beers repeated these types of campaigns throughout the developed world with resounding success. For instance, in Japan in 1967, diamond engagement rings were given only 5% of the time. Within a decade, thanks to some savvy advertising, more than half of all engagement rings in Japan had diamonds on them, with that number rising steadily ever since. Today, thanks to a series of very recent events, including several lawsuits and something in the way of a revolt by several diamond supplying nations against De Beers, De Beers no longer has a stranglehold on the diamond market, but the idea that diamonds are the traditional way to demonstrate true love and that one should spend two months’ salary on a diamond engagement ring (an idea embedded into popular culture via an old diamond ad campaign, first as one month’s salary, and later increased to two with the slogan “How else could two-months’ salary last forever?”) has kept the diamond industry remarkably profitable. After all, even for those who know all this about diamonds, thanks to popular perception, giving the gift of a diamond is still the defacto way to convert money into a demonstration of love, with no immediate end in sight.




Cecil Rhodes founded De Beers in 1888
Cecil Rhodes founded De Beers in 1888
Nathan Mayer Rothschild, Baron Rothschild, of the Rothschild family, funded the development of De Beers
Preference Share of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., issued 1. March 1902
Preference Share of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., issued 1. March 1902

The name 'De Beers' was derived from the two Dutch settlers and brothers Diederik Arnoldus De Beer (December 25, 1825 – 1878) and Johannes Nicolaas De Beer (December 6, 1830 – June 20, 1883), who owned a South African farm named Vooruitzicht (Dutch for "outlook") near Zandfontein in the Boshof District of Orange Free State. After they discovered diamonds on their land, the increasing demands of the British government forced them to sell their farm on July 31, 1871, to merchant Alfred Johnson Ebden (1820–1908) for £6,600. Vooruitzicht would become the site of the Big Hole and the De Beers mine, two successful diamond mines. Their name, which was given to one of the mines, subsequently became associated with the company.[14]

Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the British South Africa Company, got his start by renting water pumps to miners during the diamond rush that started in 1869,[15][16] when an 83.5 carat diamond called the 'Star of South Africa' was found at Hopetown near the Orange River in South Africa.[16][17][18] He invested the profits of this operation into buying up claims of small mining operators, with his operations soon expanding into a separate mining company.[19] He soon secured funding from the Rothschild family, who would finance his business expansion.[20][21] De Beers Consolidated Mines was formed in 1888 by the merger of the companies of Barney Barnato and Cecil Rhodes, by which time the company was the sole owner of all diamond mining operations in the country.[19][22][23] In 1889, Rhodes negotiated a strategic agreement with the London-based Diamond Syndicate, which agreed to purchase a fixed quantity of diamonds at an agreed price, thereby regulating output and maintaining prices.[21][24] The agreement soon proved to be very successful — for example, during the trade slump of 1891–1892, supply was simply curtailed to maintain the price.[25] Rhodes was concerned about the break-up of the new monopoly, stating to shareholders in 1896 that the company's "only risk is the sudden discovery of new mines, which human nature will work recklessly to the detriment of us all".[21]

The Second Boer War proved to be a challenging time for the company. Kimberley was besieged as soon as war broke out, thereby threatening the company's valuable mines. Rhodes personally moved into the city at the onset of the siege in order to put political pressure on the British government to divert military resources towards relieving the siege rather than more strategic war objectives. Despite being at odds with the military,[26] Rhodes placed the full resources of the company at the disposal of the defenders, manufacturing shells, defences, an armoured train and a gun named Long Cecil in the company workshops.[27]

Oppenheimer control

In 1898, diamonds were discovered on farms near Pretoria, Transvaal. One led to the discovery of the Premier Mine. The Premier Mine was registered in 1902 and the Cullinan Diamond, the largest rough diamond ever discovered, was found there in 1905.[28] (The Premier Mine was renamed the Cullinan Mine in 2003.) However, its owner refused to join the[29] De Beers cartel.[30] Instead, the mine started selling to a pair of independent dealers named Bernhard and Ernest Oppenheimer, thereby weakening the De Beers stronghold.[31] Francis Oats, who became Chairman of De Beers in 1908, was dismissive of the threats from the Premier mine and the finds in German South West Africa.[32] However, production soon equalled all of the De Beers mines combined. Ernest Oppenheimer was appointed the local agent for the powerful London Syndicate, rising to the position of mayor of Kimberley within 10 years. He understood the core principle that underpinned De Beers' success, stating in 1910 that "common sense tells us that the only way to increase the value of diamonds is to make them scarce, that is to reduce production".[30]

During World War I, the Premier mine was finally absorbed into De Beers. When Rhodes died in 1902, De Beers controlled 90% of the world's diamond production. Ernest Oppenheimer took over the chairmanship of the company in 1929,[33] after buying shares and being appointed to the board in 1926.[31][34][9] Oppenheimer was very concerned about the discovery of diamonds in 1908 in German South West Africa, fearing that the increased supply would swamp the market and force prices down.[10][11]

Former CIA chief Admiral Stansfield Turner claimed that De Beers restricted US access to industrial diamonds needed for the country's war effort during World War II.[35]

In May 1955, Ernest Oppenheimer opened the new headquarters which combined the operations of Anglo American and the De Beers group.[36] After Ernest died in November 1957, he passed on the operations of Anglo and De Beers to his son, Harry Oppenheimer.[37] Under Harry, the company expanded to several different countries around the globe, including Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Portugal, Zambia, and Tanzania.[38] In South Africa, Harry opposed apartheid, arguing that it hindered economic growth.[39] Nevertheless, during the apartheid period De Beers has been criticised for profiting from the system.[29] By 1973, Anglo and De Beers accounted for 10 percent of South Africa's gross national product and 30 percent of the country's exports.[40]

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, De Beers attempted to secretly enter the United States diamond market, being forced to divest its American assets in 1975 to avoid the risk of violating anti-trust laws.[41] Harry Oppenheimer stepped down as the chairman and director of Anglo-American and De Beers in December 1982.[42]

21st-century changes

Russian president Vladimir Putin meeting former De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer in South Africa in 2006
Russian president Vladimir Putin meeting former De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer in South Africa in 2006

De Beers used its dominant position through the 20th century to influence the international diamond market.[19][43] The company used several methods. Firstly, it convinced independent producers to join its single channel monopoly. When that did not work, it flooded the market with diamonds similar to those of producers who refused to join in. It purchased and stockpiled diamonds produced by other manufacturers as well as surplus diamonds in order to control prices by limiting supply.[44] Finally, it bought diamonds when prices fell considerably, such as during the Great Depression.[45]

In 2000, the De Beers business model changed[44] because of factors such as the decision by producers in Canada and Australia to distribute diamonds outside the De Beers channel,[19][43] as well as rising awareness of blood diamonds that forced De Beers to "avoid the risk of bad publicity" by limiting sales to its own mined products.[46] De Beers' market share of rough diamonds fell from as high as 90% in the 1980s to 33% in 2013,[47][48] because of a more fragmented diamond market bringing greater competition, as well as more transparency and greater liquidity.[49]

In November 2011, the Oppenheimer family announced its intention to sell all its 40% stake in De Beers to Anglo American plc, thereby increasing Anglo American's ownership of the company to 85% (the other 15% is owned by the Government of the Republic of Botswana).[50] The transaction was worth £3.2 billion (US$5.1 billion) in cash and ended the Oppenheimer dynasty's 80-year ownership of De Beers.[51][52]


De Beers successfully advertised diamonds to manipulate consumer demand. One of the most effective marketing strategies has been the marketing of diamonds as a symbol of love and commitment.[53] A young copywriter working for N. W. Ayer & Son, Frances Gerety (1916–1999), coined the famous advertising slogan, 'A Diamond is Forever', in 1947.[54] In 2000, Advertising Age magazine named 'A Diamond is Forever' the best advertising slogan of the 20th century.[55]

Other successful campaigns include the 'eternity ring' (meant as a symbol of continuing affection and appreciation),[53] the 'trilogy ring' (meant to represent the past, present, and future of a relationship) and the 'right hand ring' (meant to be bought and worn by women as a symbol of independence).[56]

De Beers ran television advertisements featuring silhouettes of people wearing diamonds, set to the music of 'Palladio' by Karl Jenkins. The campaign, titled "Shadows and Lights" first ran in the spring of 1993. The song would later inspire a compilation album, 'Diamond Music,' released in 1996, which features the 'Palladio' suite. A 2010 commercial for Verizon Wireless parodied the De Beers spots.[57]

In May 2018, De Beers introduced a new brand called "Lightbox" that are made with synthetic diamonds. The synthetic stones start at $200 for a quarter carat to $800 for full carat diamond. The new lab-grown diamond will retail for about one-tenth the cost of naturally occurring diamonds. The new brand will be sold starting in September 2018.[58]


De Beers Mine shaft
De Beers Mine shaft
Premier Mine shaft
Premier Mine shaft
The De Beers Snap Lake Mine in Canada
The De Beers Snap Lake Mine in Canada

Mining in Botswana takes place through the mining company Debswana,[59] a 50–50 joint venture with the Government of the Republic of Botswana. It operates four mines—Jwaneng, Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa, though Damtshaa was put on care and maintenance in 2015.[60]

In Namibia, mining is carried out through Namdeb Holdings,[61] a 50–50 joint venture with the Government of the Republic of Namibia. Namdeb Holdings is made up of Debmarine Namibia (covering offshore mining) and Namdeb Diamond Corporation (land-based coastal mining). For offshore mining, motor vessels are used, including the sixth and latest, the N$2.3 billion SS Nujoma, the world's most advanced diamond exploration and sampling vessel, which began full operations in June 2017.

De Beers Consolidated Mines is responsible for the De Beers mining in South Africa.[62] It is 74% owned by De Beers and 26% by a broad-based black economic empowerment partner, Ponahalo Investments. There are two mines—Venetia and Voorspoed.

In 2008, De Beers began production at the Snap Lake mine in Northwest Territories, Canada;[63] this was the first De Beers mine outside Africa and was Canada's first completely underground diamond mine.[64] However, production was suspended when the mine was put on care and maintenance in 2015.[65] De Beers opened the Victor mine in Ontario, Canada, the same year, a day after Snap Lake.[66] This was followed by the opening of the company's third mine in Canada, Gahcho Kué, in September 2016.[67]

Trading of rough diamonds takes place through two channels – De Beers Global Sightholder Sales[68] (GSS) and De Beers Auction Sales.[69] GSS sells about 90% of De Beers' rough diamonds, by value, and features wholly owned and joint venture operations in South Africa (De Beers Sightholder Sales South Africa), Botswana (DTCB), and Namibia (NDTC). They sort, value and sell 33% (2013) of the world's rough diamonds by value.[48]

There are two main types of customer for rough diamonds – Sightholders and Accredited Buyers. Sightholders have a term contract. Accredited Buyers (a customer type introduced in 2014–15) have a more ad hoc arrangement. De Beers also sells about 10% of its rough diamonds through online auction sales. The company pioneered the approach in 2008 when it broke with 44 years of direct sales to hold the diamond industry’s first online international auction sale. It is now the world's leader in this kind of auction sale.

De Beers employs more than 30,000 people around the globe on five continents, with more than 17,000 employees in Africa. Almost 8,000 people are employed in Botswana, around 6,200 in South Africa, nearly 2,900 in Namibia, some 1,260 in Canada and about 320 in exploration.

Business structure and brands

On 4 November 2011, Anglo American plc and CHL Holdings announced their agreement for Anglo American to acquire an incremental interest in De Beers, increasing Anglo American's 45% shareholding in the world's leading diamond company to 85%. De Beers plc was originally incorporated as De Beers Société Anonyme in 2000 in Luxembourg. Following the closure of this office, the company was reclassified as De Beers plc in 2017, with its head office now in Jersey. It is made up of two shareholdings: Anglo American plc has an 85% shareholding and the Government of the Republic of Botswana owns 15% directly. De Beers plc is the holding company of The De Beers Group of Companies.[70] It is involved in many parts of the diamond value chain, from mining to sales, and is made up of a series of joint ventures and wholly owned operations.

The joint ventures are:

The wholly owned operations are in southern Africa and Canada. Also wholly owned are Forevermark, De Beers Jewellers,[74] the International Institute of Diamond Valuation, De Beers Ventures, the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research and Element Six (Umicore has a 40% stake in Element Six's abrasives division).


Forevermark was launched in 2008 as one of the two diamond brands from The De Beers Group of Companies. According to the company website, "Each Forevermark diamond is inscribed with a promise: that it is beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced." Forevermark diamonds are inscribed with an icon and unique identification number, albeit invisibly to the naked eye: the Forevermark inscription is 1/20th of a micron deep. This inscription helps keep Forevermark diamonds distinguishable from synthetic diamonds, which are otherwise identical to mined diamonds, and maintain scarcity: the Forevermark website boasts that only a tiny percentage of diamonds qualify for the Forevermark brand.[75]

De Beers Jewellers

De Beers Diamond Jewellers (DBDJ) was established in 2001 as a 50:50 joint venture between The De Beers Group of Companies and LVMH, the French luxury goods company.[75] The first De Beers boutique opened in 2002 on London's Old Bond Street as the brand's flagship store. Since then, stores have opened in various cities around the world. In March 2017, The De Beers Group of Companies acquired LVMH's 50% shareholding in DBDJ and new name De Beers Jewellers was unveiled.[76]

De Beers Ventures

De Beers Ventures was established by De Beers Group in June 2017 to consider minority stake investments in start-ups and growth companies that could be of benefit to De Beers Group or the broader diamond sector.[77][78]

International Institute of Diamond Valuation

The International Institute of Diamond Valuation (IIDV) was launched by De Beers Group in March 2016. Operating in partnership with diamond jewellery retailers, it provides a reselling service for all diamonds, regardless of value.[79][80][81]

The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research

The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR) was set up by De Beers in 2008, with the aim of providing a range of services and equipment in the field of diamond verification. It is based in London, Antwerp and, from 2015, in Surat, India. The IIDGR works only on diamonds that meet the requirements of the United Nations’ World Diamond Council Kimberley Process.

Conflict diamonds and the Kimberley Process

In 1999, a campaign by Global Witness to highlight the role of diamonds in international conflicts led to a review by the United Nations. The initial focus of the UN's investigation was on Jonas Savimbi's UNITA movement in Angola, which was found to have bartered uncut diamonds for weaponry despite international economic and diplomatic sanctions being in effect through United Nations Security Council Resolution 1173.[82][83]

In 1999, De Beers Group stopped all outside buying of diamonds in order to guarantee the conflict-free status of their diamonds effective from 26 March 2000.[84][85][86]

In December 2000, following the recommendations of the Fowler Report, the UN adopted the landmark General Assembly Resolution A/RES/55/56[87] supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. By November 2002, negotiations between governments, the international diamond industry, led by De Beers, and civil society organisations resulted in the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which sets out the requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade and became effective in 2003.

De Beers states that 100% of the diamonds it now sells are conflict-free and that all De Beers diamonds are purchased in compliance with national law, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme[88] and its own Diamond Best Practice Principles.[89] The Kimberley process has helped restore the reputation of the industry, as well as eliminating sources of excess supply.[90]

In 2018, De Beers used blockchain technology to successfully track 100 high-value diamonds.[13] The diamonds were tracked through the manufacturing process from the mine to the retailer in order to ensure their quality and conflict-free status.[91]

Corporate affairs

In August 2017, De Beers partnered with the Stanford Graduate School of Business to accelerate business ventures to market in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.[92] As part of two programs, the partnership is set to help teach early entrepreneurs how to commercialize their business ideas.[93] The partnership is a 3-year, $3 million deal.[94]

In September 2017, De Beers partnered with UN Women to help the advancement of women within the company and the countries it operates in.[95] In 2018, the two entities launched a program to support 500 women micro-entrepreneurs in Blouberg and Musina communities, near De Beers’ Venetia diamond mine.[96]

In May 2018, De Beers partnered with Element Six to create lab-grown diamonds.[97]

In October 2018, Alrosa joined De Beers in piloting the De Beers' blockchain tracking platform Tracr.[98] The platform focuses on ensuring the conflict-free and natural status of diamonds.[99]

Legal issues

Sherman Antitrust Act

During World War II, Ernest Oppenheimer attempted to negotiate a way around the Sherman Antitrust Act by proposing that De Beers register a US branch of the Diamond Syndicate Incorporated. In this way, his company could provide the US with the industrial diamonds it desperately sought for the war effort in return for immunity from prosecution after the war; however his proposal was rejected by the US Justice Department when it was discovered that De Beers had no intention of stockpiling any industrial diamonds in the US.[35] In 1945, the Justice Department finally filed an antitrust case against De Beers, but the case was dismissed as the company had no presence on US soil.[100]

Relocation of indigenous San people in Botswana

In Botswana, a long dispute has existed between the interests of the mining company, De Beers, and the San (Bushman) tribe. The San have been facing threats of forceful relocation since 1980s, when the diamond resources were discovered.[101] A campaign was fought in an attempt to bring an end to what the indigenous rights organisation, Survival International, considers to be a genocide of a tribe that has been living in those lands for tens of thousands of years.[102][103][104] Several international fashion models, including Iman, Lily Cole and Erin O'Connor, who were previously involved with advertising for the companies' diamonds, supported the campaign.[105] De Beers sold its mine in Botswana to Gem Diamonds in 2007.[101]

Industrial diamonds

In 2004, De Beers pled guilty and paid a US$10 million fine to the United States Department of Justice to settle a 1994 charge that De Beers had colluded with General Electric to fix the price of industrial diamonds.[106][107] In 2008, De Beers agreed to pay US$295 million class-action settlement after accusations of price fixing.[108] The company appealed the decision but ended up paying the settlement in 2013.[109]

European Commission

In February 2006, De Beers entered into legally binding commitments with the European Commission to cease purchasing rough diamonds from Russian mining company Alrosa as of the end of 2008 in order to ensure competition between the two companies.[110]

South Africa's rough diamond trade

In 2014, the Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value, based at the University of Manchester, published a report authored by Sarah Bracking and Khadija Sharife, identifying over US$3 billion in price fixing of South African rough diamond trade from 2005 to 2012. The report found significant evidence of profit shifting through volume and value manipulation.[111] Sharife simultaneously published an article [112] disclosing the political system that cultivated revenue leakage, including the donation of De Beers staff to the State Diamond Trader (SDT). The report, like the article, utilised aggregated data produced by the Kimberley Process (KP) certificates of import-exports, relying on figures listed by the diamond companies themselves, in which De Beers was the dominant player. The South African Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) disclosed that De Beers did not authorise them to publish figures involving values, sales, pricing and other data, preventing transparency of the industry.

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External links

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