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Sept. 2000

De Beers looks like it will set a record of $7 billion in diamond sales this year, analysts say, comfortably beating last year’s total of $5.2 billion, which at the time was another record.

First half sales have already been $3.52 billion, a 44 percent increase over the year before, though De Beers has warned that second-half sales are likely to be below the first half.

The good sales are also being reflected by strong profits. De Beers’ profits rose to $877 million in the first half—more than triple what they were last year. Earnings per share were $2.19— also triple last year’s number.

The U.S. retail market remains the powerhouse of the market. De Beers says it will account for half of global retail sales this year, and demand has been rising faster than 10%. Japan, however, is still disappointing, with only 15% of total sales. China and India were both said to be doing well, but European sales are growing only moderately, at a rate at less than ten percent.

When asked whether De Beers’ recent acquisitions will hurt its campaign to finally gain a legal presence in the United States, after years of staying away because of anti-trust laws, managing director Gary Ralfe replied, “I am not sure. Even with these acquisitions, our level of production will still be lower than in the past. It has been declining over the last ten years as new producers come onto the market.

“As far as the American Justice Department is concerned, it is something we would like to discuss with them to see whether the way we operate meets their requirements or not. I don’t now whether that will be possible.”

Robin Walker Retires from DTC;

Lamont Takes Duties for Trade Press

This fall will see the retirement of someone we will miss a lot — Robin Walker, De Beers’ liaison with the trade press who has reached the standard De Beers retirement age of 60.

Walker was always gracious to us when we called with questions and would always go out of his way to answer our queries, to the extent that his company would allow. During our visits to De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company (DTC), his warmth and hospitality were refreshing. One of the things he told us he wants to do is to study Jewish history at Oxford.This only shows that he is not really retiring—as the old Jewish saying says, “If you are learning, you are growing, not growing old.”

Walker has worked for De Beers in various capacities for 41 years. He’s worked in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Monrovia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was personal assistant to Sir Philip Oppenheimer, the late president of De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation and the brother of the recently deceased Harry Oppenheimer.

Filling Walker’s big shoes will be another gentleman, Andrew Lamont, a South African who has worked at De Beers since 1978. Lamont has also always been very helpful to us and generous with his time and we look forward to a long association with him as well.

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