Who is DeBeers?

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Posted by Robert Hensley
Asked on July 12, 2014 4:06 am
Category: QA: Jewelers
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DeBeers is, or at one time … was, the world’s largest miner and wholesaler of rough diamonds.

Founded in 1870 by Cecil Rhodes (since owned primarily by the Oppenheimer family since the 1920′s) instantly began dominating the new industry and created the diamond market as well as supplied it. As a diamond insider, I have a unique perspective on the DeBeers contribution to the industry.

I believe it to have been an important monopoly, because without the stability in the market that it created, jewelers, consumers, and mining countries would all have been hurt. The cartel actually provided what was needed in the infancy of this industry, and now there is a strong enough foundation for DeBeers to let go of its dominance, and move toward its new strategy of “supplier of choice” instead of trying to keep a hold on a monopoly.

The diamond market is now strong and fairly stable, and there is enough knowledge available due to GIA and other research institutes, that consumers are better informed to make good decisions. And through better laws and self-policing organizations such as Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee (JVC), it is also better protected.

Thanks to a stockpile of the world’s rough diamond supply, indelible marketing strategies and even negotiations with foreign governments for their diamonds, De Beers — owned by the Oppenheimer family since the 1920s — has been the most important name in the diamond industry for almost a century.

Recently the Oppenheimers sold out to fellow mining company Anglo American.

Read more here for an indepth article on the history of the DeBeers diamond cartel.

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Posted by Robert Hensley
Answered on July 18, 2014 2:48 am
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