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2016 - 2000

The signing of the 10-year sales agreement with Namibia in 2016

2016

In May, De Beers signs a 10-year sales agreement with the Government of the Republic of Namibia for the sorting, valuing and sales of Namdeb Holdings' diamonds.

It is the longest agreement ever signed between the two parties.

2016

In January, De Beers Consolidated Mines completes the sale of Kimberley Mines to Ekapa Minerals (Pty) Limited. 

Kimberley Mines

2015

Forevermark announce plans to bring into effect again the historic slogan, ‘A Diamond is Forever.

Forevermark and A Diamond is Forever logo
Diamond Producers Association logo

2015

ALROSA, De Beers, Rio Tinto, Dominion Diamond Corporation, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Petra Diamonds Ltd, and Gem Diamonds Ltd form the Diamond Producers Association (DPA).

2015

De Beers acquires a 33.4% equity stake in Synova SA (Synova), a Swiss-based owner and supplier of a patent protected laser micro jet technology.

Laser micro jet
2014

2014

De Beers launches The Diamond Insight Report 2014, giving an expert perspective on the global diamond industry.

2013

Global Sightholder Sales moved from London to Botswana.

De Beers, Botswana
Anglo American logo

2012

De Beers becomes a member of the Anglo American plc group. 

2011

Anglo American, shareholders in De Beers since 1926, and the Oppenheimer family announce an agreement for Anglo American to acquire the family’s share in De Beers. 

Nicky Oppenheimer
Snap lake portal

2008

De Beers opens its first mines outside Africa: Snap Lake Mine and Victor Mine in Canada. Snap Lake Mine was later placed into care and maintenance on December 4, 2015.

 

2008

The Forevermark brand was launched.

Forevermark
Rough diamonds

2008

De Beers Auction Sales pioneers the industry’s first successful sales of rough diamonds using online auctions.

2006

With the Government of the Republic of Botswana, we establish DTC Botswana, a company to sort and value all Debswana production and support local diamond manufacturing. 

Employees inspecting at diamonds
The Kimberley Process Certificate

2003

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is established to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. One hundred per cent of De Beers’ diamonds are certified conflict free.

2001

We set up a new company, De Beers Diamond Jewellers (DBDJ), with luxury brand LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. DBDJ provides the world’s most discerning customers with the world’s most beautiful diamonds. 

De Beers Diamond Jewellers
203.04 carat De Beers Millennium Star Diamond

2000

We welcome in the new millennium with the 203.04 carat De Beers Millennium Star Diamond.

1999 - 1980

1999

Nelson Mandela meets Harry Oppenheimer in London. After Harry's death, in 2000, Mr Mandela praised him for his strong voice against apartheid, commending him for helping to build and develop South Africa while fighting for justice and freedom.

Nelson Mandela with Harry Oppenheimer
Nicky Oppenheimer in a mine

1998

Nicky Oppenheimer becomes Chairman of De Beers.

We begin the development of diamond inscribing technology that ends up giving birth to Forevermark.

1995

Highlighting the role of diamonds in marking life’s occasions, our iconic ‘Shadows’ campaign is launched in America.

De Beers iconic Shadows campaign
Namdeb

1994

De Beers joins with the newly independent Republic of Namibia to form Namdeb, a 50/50 joint venture partnership, to mine the country’s diamonds. 

1992

Venetia Mine opens in South Africa. It will become South Africa’s largest diamond mine.

Venetia Mine
273.85 carat Centenary Diamond

1988

Our centenary year. We unveil the 273.85 carat Centenary Diamond. 

1987

De Beers Exploration discovers Kimberlite in Northern Ontario, which would eventually become Victor Mine. 

Victor Mine main pit
Haul truck in Jwaneng Mine

1982

Production begins at Jwaneng Mine in Botswana.

1979 - 1960

1972

The Botswana desert gives up more riches when De Beers’ geologists discover the Jwaneng kimberlite pipe, hidden 150 metres below the surface. It becomes the world’s richest diamond mine, producing an average of 11 million carats per year.

Jwaneng Mine
Debswana mine

1969

We join with the Government of the Republic of Botswana in establishing Debswana, a 50/50 partnership, to develop the Orapa Mine. Production begins in 1971.

1967

A year after Botswana gains its independence from Britain, the Orapa kimberlite pipe is discovered. The second largest pipe in the world, it covers 262 acres at the surface.

Orapa kimberlite pipe
Kimberlite diamond-bearing ore

1966

Kimberlite, the tell-tale diamond-bearing ore, is discovered by De Beers’ prospectors in Northern Botswana.

1964

De Beers Auction Sales, trading as Diamdel, began supporting non-Sightholder businesses with rough diamond supplies.

Kimberlite diamond-bearing ore
Exploration in Canada

1960

De Beers begins an exploration program in Canada.

1959 - 1940

1957

Following the death of his father, Sir Ernest, Harry Oppenheimer succeeds him as Chairman.

Harry Oppenheimer
A diamond is forever slogan

1947

Frances Gerety, a young copywriter at the N W Ayer advertising agency, creates the timeless slogan, ‘A diamond is forever’. Fifty years later, it's recognised by Ad Age as the greatest advertising slogan of the 20th century. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, visit Kimberley.

1941

Diamond Trading Company offices in London are destroyed in the Blitz. The operation temporarily moves to Berkshire.

Diamond Trading Company offices in London destroyed by the Blitz
Dr John Williamson

1940

World War II engulfs Europe. All De Beers’ mines close for the duration. In Tanzania, Dr John Williamson, a Canadian geologist, establishes the Williamson Diamond Mine, later famous for its fine pink diamonds.

1939 - 1920

1939

Harry Oppenheimer heads for New York to kick-start De Beers’ pioneering diamond advertising campaign.

New York
Harry Oppenheimer

1934

Harry Oppenheimer, son of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, joins the De Beers Board. 

1932

As the Great Depression deepens, demand for diamonds dries up. De Beers closes all its mines.

Kimberley Mine
Sir Ernest Oppenheimer

1929

Sir Ernest Oppenheimer becomes Chairman of De Beers.

1928

Diamond cutting comes to South Africa when we open our first African cutting factory in Kimberley.

Rough diamonds in Kimberley
Sir Ernest Oppenheimer

1926

Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, knighted for his wartime efforts, is elected to the De Beers Board after Anglo American, the company he founded, becomes a major De Beers shareholder. 

1919 - 1900

1917

Ernest Oppenheimer founds the Anglo American Corporation to develop gold mining in South Africa. 

Ernest Oppenheimer
The Cullinan Diamond

1905

The Cullinan Diamond is discovered at the Premier Mine. At 3,106.75 carats, it is the largest rough diamond ever found. The Premier Mine is later renamed the Cullinan Mine. The Cullinan Diamond is cut into nine gems. The two biggest are presented to King Edward VII in 1908 and now form part of the British Crown Jewels.

1902

Cecil Rhodes dies at his cottage at Muizenberg, aged 48. Ernest Oppenheimer arrives in Kimberley to work as a diamond buying agent. He and Rhodes never meet.

The Premier Mine, near Pretoria, is discovered. It will ultimately produce a higher number of large gem diamonds than any other mine.

Cecil John Rhodes tomb stone

1899 - 1880

Kimberley is besieged by the second Boer War

1899

Within days of the outbreak of the second Boer War, the town of Kimberley is besieged. It remains under siege, its mines closed, for 124 days.

1890

Ten merchants form the London Diamond Syndicate and agree to buy De Beers' entire production. 

Diamond mine
De Beers Consolidated Mine Limited

1888

De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited is established on 12 March. Cecil Rhodes is named as founding Chairman.

1887

Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato, each buying claims and shares in nearby mines, vie for commercial pre-eminence in the Kimberley diamond fields. To outproduce each other, they flood the market causing diamond prices to plummet. A merger is the only solution.

Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato

1879 - 1860

Barnato Brother

1874

‘Barnato Brothers Dealers in Diamonds and Brokers in Mining Property’ opens for business.

1873

Barney Barnato, 18, a one-time music hall turn, joins his brother in Kimberley. Meanwhile, Cecil Rhodes buys a claim. Barney becomes a diamond millionaire within 10 years of arriving in South Africa. 

Barney Barnato
De Beers mine

1871

The De Beers Mine is discovered in May, and the Kimberley Mine in July. The latter will become the world’s richest mine for nearly a century.

1870

Cecil Rhodes, 17, arrives in South Africa. He sells ice to miners in the hot African sun and saves his money.

Cecil Rhodes aged 17
The Star of South Africa, an 83.5 carat rough diamond

1869

The Star of South Africa, an 83.5 carat rough diamond, is discovered by a Griqua herdsman. It triggers the first diamond rush. The diamond was sold for 500 sheep, 10 head of cattle and a horse. It is now in London's Natural History Museum.

1866

The Eureka Diamond, a 21.25 carat rough diamond, is found. Erasmus Jacobs, a 15-year-old farmer's son, finds Africa's first authenticated diamond near the Orange River. Erasmus gave the shiny pebble to his sisters as a plaything. Later, his mother gave it away to a neighbour. The Eureka Diamond is now exhibited at the Kimberley Mine Museum.

The Eureka Diamond, a 21.25 carat rough diamond