No longer a girl's best friend?

December 22, 2011   |  

The Oppenheimers are getting out of the diamond biz. End of a sparkling era.

For those of you who are shaking your heads and wondering what the hell the crazy Canuck is yammering about, let me wipe my tears away and try to explain.

For over 100 years, the Oppenheimer family, along with DeBeers, has controlled the South African diamond trade. Before you get your collective knickers in a knot, shut up. I don't care if the diamond I receive is still clutched in a small, bloody, severed black hand – I'll use it as a goddam setting – just give me the rock. Like most people who aren't just lying at dinner parties, I really don't care about the politics as much as I care about the sparkle.

But far beyond the sadness at this change is a concern for world markets. If the O's are cutting and running f

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rom diamonds, do the rocks have a future as illustrious as their past?

Since Obama took office and destroyed the economy, we've seen the price of silver, gold and platinum skyrocket. But nary a peep about diamonds or other precious gems.

During WWII, European Jews looking to escape death hawked their jewels to get out. But so much trade and barter led to a decline in value. Has several centuries of diamond mining led to a permanent glut on the market – one which will mean the value of the stones will lose its luster? And what will that mean for those with accumulated wealth in precious gems? If you look at someone like the Queen, for example, much of her monetary worth is based on the value of her collection. Will that collection tank? What does that mean for museums, insurance firms and others who base the value of their assets on diamonds?

Market watchers may want to track this… It has very long-ranging ramifications.


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