For decades, a quaint practice marks the secretive world of diamond trade. Every five weeks, elite diamond houses from all over the world assemble in a room in London, and behind the closed doors, each one of them is given a small box of rough stones by De Beers – the cartel known for its formidable clout and control on the supply of roughs. Every box contains a mix of good and not-so-good stones. The buyers quietly pick the boxes and take flights back to Mumbai or Antwerp, where the stones are cut and polished by skilled craftsmen. No questions are asked. No one has a choice.
But the visits to London will soon come to an end. A year from now, the diamond houses will have to send their men to Botswana – the African country that in the coming years may call the shots in the business.
(De Beers is controlled by Anglo American plc.)