De Beers

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De Beers UK Limited

legal form Limited
founding 1888
Seat London
management Bruce Cleaver, CEO
Mark Cutifani, Chairman
Number of employees 20,000
sales $ 3.1 billion (2017)
Branch Diamonds

De Beers is the largest diamond producer and dealer in the world, based in London . The company is a subsidiary of Anglo American and supplies about a third of the world's production of rough diamonds. The company takes its name from its first mine in Kimberley on the farm of the brothers Johannes Nicolaas and Diederik Arnoldus de Beer . For over 100 years, the South African company was a syndicate with a monopoly on the diamond trade. This monopoly is meanwhile under severe pressure from traders from Asia.

Today De Beers only sells diamonds from its own mines, most of which are in South Africa , Botswana and Namibia . In 2004, the company produced gemstones with a total weight of 47 million carats (about 9.4 tons), three million more than in 2003.


Diamond rush

De Beers began in Kimberley, 100 km west of Bloemfontein in the southern Orange Free State in the South African Republic . When diamonds were found on the grounds of the de Beers brothers' farm in 1866 , it spread immediately, with diamond seekers coming from all corners of South Africa and uncontrolled digging. The de Beers were forced to sell the farm and leave the area. The farm was immediately divided into prospecting fields that were auctioned off to diamond seekers. After initial sensational discoveries, they soon reached their technical limits, because for geological reasons, with increasing depth, more and more heavy rubble has to be cleared in increasing width in order to get to the diamond deposits. The capital expenditure required for this could not be raised by individual diamond prospectors. " The Big Hole " in Kimberley still bears witness to the enormous earth movements that were necessary for the final exploitation of the deposits until the mine was closed in 1914.

Consolidation to the company

That was the hour of Cecil Rhodes , but also that of Barney Barnato and a few others. They bought the mining rights of the diamond seekers, which had become almost worthless to them. In 1880 their battle for the diamond fields began. Rhodes tried coalitions. In April of the same year, he and Charles Rudd combined their shares to create the new group. Barnato caught up in the same year and founded the Barnato Diamond Mining Company with his family to strengthen their claim in the high-yielding Kimberley mine. After a series of mergers, Barnato managed to gain a dominant position in the Kimberley mine in 1887. But that did not help him to final dominance. He was a simple man from the people who had made a fortune by discovering diamonds of his own. He lacked social recognition, membership in English clubs, support at court and in the banks of the British Empire . Rhodes had all of this, however, so both of them merged their shares in the Kimberley mine into De Beers for economic reasons. From the Rothschild - archive shows that Cecil Rhodes had 1,890 to 1,914 shares with Rothschild.

De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited

De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. preferred share from March 1, 1902

De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was founded on March 12, 1888 with Cecil Rhodes as Chairman. De Beers included the entire De Beers mine, three-quarters of the Kimberley mine, and controlled interests in the Bultfontein and Dutoitspan mines. Cecil Rhodes, Barney Barnato, FS Philipson-Stow and Alfred Beit were now the main shareholders and directors of De Beers. In 1890, the London Diamond Syndicate was formed, which bought up all of De Beers' production. This syndicate was the cornerstone on which Ernest Oppenheimer created the Diamond Corporation, which later became the "Central Selling Organization". From August 1893 De Beers was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange .

In 1889, Rhodes acquired the Barnato Diamond Mining Company for £ 5,338,650 - the highest check in history at the time . All of South Africa's diamond mines were now under his control. His alleged last words "So much to do, so little done" are said to have occurred to Queen Victoria in person. In the same year Ernest Oppenheimer came to Kimberley as an agent for A. Dinkelsbuhler & Co. (diamond purchase) . By owning Oppenheimer's Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) in South West Africa (from 1990 Namibia ), the Anglo American Corporation became a member of the London Diamond Syndicate in 1924 . This secured British control and thus the annual profit for the Empire.


The Boer War was waged by Great Britain to incorporate the diamond- and gold-rich Boer republics into the British Empire.



In the 1940s, the company first used the slogan: "A Diamond is forever" (Eng: "A diamond is immortal") in its public relations work. Between 1980 and 1993 the company quadrupled its annual budget for advertising, PR and image campaigns to 234 million Swiss francs . In 2007, the company spent approximately $ 220 million on marketing .

Due to the monopoly of De Beers at the time, advertising for diamonds was virtually synonymous with advertising for De Beers at the time.

Corporate investments

Companies in which De Beers has a stake include:

Since 2005, De Beers has sold significant shares in mines in South Africa and in the Willamson mine in Tanzania to the mining company Petra Diamonds , based in Jersey .


De Beers has ceased to be a public company since 2001 and has been delisted from the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges .

On November 4, 2011, it was announced that the Anglo American group intends to take over the South African Oppenheimer family's 40% stake in De Beers for 5.1 billion US dollars, thereby increasing its stake to 85%. The transaction was completed in August 2012. Since then, De Beers has the following shareholders (as of May 2020):

  • Anglo American: 85%
  • Government of the Republic of Botswana: 15%


De Beers was and still is criticized by human rights groups. On the one hand, it is denounced that blood diamonds are still on offer. De Beers states that the proportion of blood diamonds is a maximum of 4%, which has not been proven and is doubted by human rights activists. On the other hand, the harsh working conditions for the people in the mines are also criticized. De Beers is also considered to be a tough business partner: Anyone who is approved as a buyer must generally pay in cash and may reject a maximum of 5% of the rough diamonds on offer.

Films (documentaries)

  • The way of the diamonds - three-part documentary series by Nisha Pahuja (ZDF / ARTE 2008)


  1. Leadership, from , accessed August 7, 2018
  2. Financial Results, at , accessed on August 7, 2018
  3. ^ Titus Kroder, De Beers benefits from the diamond boom ( Memento from July 18, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Financial Times Deutschland , July 25, 2005
  4. ^ / Foreign Accounts No. 6, 1890-1914 I / 11 / 1-25, 25 volumes
  5. cf. z. B. Rob Bates: De Beers to Promote Less Generic Advertising. , Jewelers Circular Keystone, July 1, 2007 ( April 21, 2016 memento on the Internet Archive )
  6. Petra Diamonds | Our history. Retrieved May 1, 2020 .
  7. ^ Alan Cowell With Rachel L. Swarns: $ 17.6 Billion Deal to Make De Beers Private Company . In: The New York Times . February 16, 2001, ISSN  0362-4331 ( [accessed May 1, 2020]).
  8. ^ Rough diamonds - the Oppenheimer family sold , FAZ.NET , November 4, 2011, accessed on November 5, 2011
  9. Anglo American agrees acquisition of Oppenheimer family interest in De Beers ( Memento of November 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), de Beers website, November 4, 2011, accessed November 5, 2011 (en)
  10. ^ Anglo American completes acquisition of De Beers shareholding ( Memento of August 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), press release from Anglo American, August 16, 2012
  11. Botswana pushes for more from De Beers diamond deal -. January 6, 2020, accessed May 1, 2020 .
  12. How much blood does a diamond stick? ( Memento of the original from January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. In the grip of the Syndicate
  14. Bloody diamonds ( Memento from January 6, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Blood diamonds from government hands
  16. Blood diamonds - an open secret ( Memento from June 16, 2008 in the Internet Archive )

Web links