Africa, the world’s largest producer of diamonds, has produced half of all diamonds. With 1.9 billion carats produced, the continent has mined about $158 billion worth of the gems.

Dating back to 1866, the first diamond that was discovered in Africa back then was by a Dutch farmer’s child who found a 22-carat gem . When an 83-carat diamond was discovered 3 years later, it attracted a rush of miners into South Africa.  In 1871 the first 4 mines were built in and around areas of the Vaal River.  The largest of the 4 was in Kimberly titled Colesberg Kopje aka “the Big Hole.” These 4 mines produced such wealth and profits that they generated industrial development with modern shipping ports, along with travel and communication networks springing up throughout the subcontinent. Over the next century, Africa continued to lead the world in diamond production. De Beers controls most of Africa’s diamond production. For most of the 20th century the corporation controlled the flow and pricing of the diamond market.  In 1917 De Beers then  formed the Anglo American Corporation in order to establish a central selling organisation to alleviate sales.
  • De Beers is a holding business for numerous companies that explore for, trade in and diamond production; it is the world’s chief diamond producer.
  • Anglo American has an 85% shareholder in De Beers. The corporation predicted what is happening now;  advanced and rapid increases in demand for industrial commodities for 2013.
While Africa remains the center of global diamond production, Russia recently revealed a massive diamond mine of its own that may loosen the continent’s tight grip on the industry.  An effective way to invest in diamonds is by physically holding them. For the last 15 years returns for diamonds beat those of equity for much of the last 15 years. Between 1999 and 2011 145% and 5-carat diamonds increased by 171%. It’s worth bearing in mind that diamond trading is an free-for-all market. However with De Beers holding most diamond trade, there might be difficulty for private investors to break into the market.