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The production of Diamonds

November 4th, 2011

The relay in diamonds

Historic transfer of ownership for diamonds: the Oppenheimer family, South Africans, who have controlled De Beers for almost a century, sold its share to the Anglo American mining group for £3.2 billion ($5.1 billion) in cash.

The Anglo American group will thus increase its share in De Beers to 85%, in an operation which decrees the end of the almost centenary presence of the family in the diamond sector.

Anglo American has been present in De Beers for over 80 years and is the first shareholder since 2001.

The Anglo American Corporation was founded in 1917 by Ernest Oppenheimer with the aim of exploiting the gold deposits in South Africa's East Rand.

In 1999, Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Limited separated from De Beers' ownership.


De Beers e Central Selling Organization.


Since 1929 the South African De Beers, whose first president was Ernest Oppenheimer, [Belgie - 1960] a young Jewish coming from a German family, has a fast total control over the diamond market, and this thanks mostly to the Central Selling Organization - C.S.O. - a mysterious marketing arm based in London.


What it is known about C.S.O. is that this organization buys diamonds coming from all over the world and that it sells them back to a network composed of fixed customers. This operation is repeated 10 times per year.

De Beers is not the most important extraction company but, thanks to C.S.O., it controls around 65 % of the market.

It has been accused by non governmental organizations and by the United Nations that it regularly traded illegal diamonds – largely UNITA diamonds – breaking United Nations sanctions.

Since 2002, the company has decided to apply a special guarantee certificate to assure that none of its diamonds comes from African areas in war.

Diamond production covers more than 90 % of the gemstones’ market. From the investment point of view, diamonds survived all political and economic storms of last decades. In this way not just money was saved, but also millions of jobs related in a direct of indirect way to the diamond market.

The diamond market occurs at different commercial levels.

The first level, a closed market, trades only rough diamonds provided by the Central Selling Organization. All gem-quality diamonds are sent to London and clustered in lots; the price of each lot is at least £25,000 and it has to be paid in cash. Only 200 wholesalers are encouraged to buy.

The second level includes: diamond cutters – more then thousand – which do not buy directly from C.S.O., as well as diamond bourses and wholesalers of cut diamonds.

The following sale and the division of lots is carried out by customers buying directly from diamond bourses or through wholesalers.

Diamond Bourses, also called Diamond Club [Belgie - 1992], are not real bourses, rather they are supermarkets of diamonds. They are linked at international level and they have very tough rules. 

They are all federated in the World Federation of Diamond Bourses.

Besides the bourse of Anvers, the most important one, there are active bourses also in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Milan, Vienna, Idar-Oberstein (Germany), New York, Ramat Gan (Israel), Bombay, Jakarta, Johannesburg and Tokyo.

The task of bourses is to bring together buyers and sellers, to follow the progress, in other words, of the supply and demand. With its system of sales, the Syndicate controls and influences also the prices of brokers in order to maintain steady the value of diamonds.



Graphic representation of the world production of diamonds in 2006







Last modified: Giovedì 25 aprile 2019