Saturday, June 8, 2024

Who is the richest person in the diamond industry?

The diamond industry has long been shrouded in a veil of mystery and glamour, with its top figures often residing in the shadows despite their immense wealth and influence. In recent years, the title of the richest person in the diamond industry has seen significant contenders, each bringing their unique touch to this glittering market. This article delves into the profiles of these leading figures, examining their net worth, business ventures, achievements, and the broader impact they have on the diamond market.


Profiles of Top Diamond Industry Figures

The diamond industry is dominated by a few key players, each with a unique story and a significant stake in the market. Here are some of the most notable figures:


1. Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer, the former chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., and its subsidiary, the Diamond Trading Company, is a name synonymous with the diamond industry. The Oppenheimer family controlled De Beers for 85 years until 2012, when they sold their remaining stake to Anglo American plc.

2. Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev is an Israeli businessman, philanthropist, and investor who is known for his substantial contributions to the diamond industry. He owns LLD Diamonds, one of the largest privately-held diamond companies in the world.

3. Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff, a British jeweler, founded Graff Diamonds in 1960. His company is renowned for dealing in some of the world’s most valuable diamonds and gemstones.

4. Ehud Laniado

Ehud Laniado, a Belgian-Israeli diamond dealer, was another prominent figure until his death in 2019. He was known for his expertise in evaluating and trading high-value diamonds.

Net Worth and Rankings

The net worth of these diamond magnates fluctuates with the market dynamics, but they consistently rank among the wealthiest in the industry:

Nicky Oppenheimer: After selling the family’s stake in De Beers, Nicky Oppenheimer’s net worth is estimated to be around $8 billion. This sale marked the end of the Oppenheimer family’s direct involvement in the diamond industry but left Nicky as one of the wealthiest individuals in the sector.

Lev Leviev: Lev Leviev’s net worth is estimated at $1 billion. His investments span various sectors, but diamonds remain the core of his fortune.

Laurence Graff: With a net worth of approximately $5 billion, Laurence Graff is often referred to as the “King of Diamonds.” His wealth is primarily derived from his ownership of Graff Diamonds.

Ehud Laniado: Though no longer alive, Ehud Laniado’s net worth at the time of his death was estimated to be around $1 billion, reflecting his extensive dealings in high-value diamonds.

Business Ventures and Achievements

Each of these figures has significantly shaped the diamond industry through their business ventures and achievements:

Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer’s tenure at De Beers saw the company maintaining its position as the dominant force in the diamond market. Under his leadership, De Beers embraced new strategies, including a focus on ethical sourcing and conflict-free diamonds. The sale of the family’s stake to Anglo American in 2012 was a landmark deal, valued at $5.1 billion.

Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev broke the De Beers monopoly by establishing his own diamond-cutting factories in Russia and other countries. His company, LLD Diamonds, has a global presence, with operations spanning mining, cutting, polishing, and retail. Leviev’s ventures into real estate and investments have diversified his portfolio, making him a significant player in multiple industries.

Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff’s company, Graff Diamonds, is known for handling some of the most famous and valuable diamonds in the world, including the Graff Pink and the Lesedi La Rona. His ability to acquire and sell these high-value gems has cemented his reputation as a top jeweler. Graff’s achievements also include expanding his business into Asia and the Middle East, tapping into new markets for luxury diamonds.

Ehud Laniado

Ehud Laniado’s expertise in the diamond industry was unparalleled. He founded Omega Diamonds, a company specializing in trading high-value diamonds. Laniado was instrumental in brokering deals involving some of the largest and most expensive diamonds ever sold, including the Blue Moon Diamond.

Background and Rise to Wealth

The backgrounds of these industry titans vary, but their rise to wealth shares common themes of vision, strategic investments, and a deep understanding of the diamond market:

Nicky Oppenheimer

Born into the prominent Oppenheimer family, Nicky was groomed for leadership in the diamond industry from a young age. He joined De Beers in 1968 and worked his way up through various roles. His strategic thinking and business acumen were key factors in his ascent to the chairmanship in 1998.

Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev’s journey began in the Soviet Union, where he trained as a diamond cutter. He emigrated to Israel and quickly established himself in the diamond trade. Leviev’s rise to wealth was marked by his willingness to challenge the status quo, particularly the dominance of De Beers, and his focus on vertical integration in the diamond supply chain.

Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff started as an apprentice in a jewelry workshop at the age of 15. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish his own business in 1960. Graff’s talent for identifying and acquiring high-value diamonds propelled his company to international fame and success.

Ehud Laniado

Ehud Laniado’s background was in finance before he entered the diamond industry. His analytical skills and eye for value allowed him to excel in diamond trading. Laniado’s ability to assess the true worth of diamonds made him a sought-after expert in the field.

See Also: How to tell a real diamond from glass?

Impact on the Diamond Market

The influence of these individuals extends beyond their personal fortunes. They have shaped the diamond market in profound ways:

Market Dynamics

Nicky Oppenheimer’s leadership at De Beers helped maintain the company’s dominant position, influencing global diamond prices and supply. The decision to sell to Anglo American shifted the balance of power in the industry.

Lev Leviev’s challenge to the De Beers monopoly introduced competition, leading to more diversified sources of diamonds and impacting pricing strategies. His focus on ethical sourcing has also contributed to industry-wide changes.

Laurence Graff’s dealings in high-value diamonds have set benchmarks for pricing and quality. His company’s reputation for luxury has elevated the market’s perception of diamonds as a status symbol.

Ehud Laniado’s expertise in valuing high-end diamonds brought greater transparency to the market. His deals often set new records, influencing the market’s valuation of rare diamonds.

Philanthropy and Investments

Beyond their business ventures, these figures are known for their philanthropic efforts and investments in various sectors:

Nicky Oppenheimer

The Oppenheimer family has a long history of philanthropy, particularly in South Africa. Nicky Oppenheimer continues this legacy through his family’s foundation, which supports education, conservation, and economic development projects.

Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev is known for his contributions to Jewish communities worldwide. He supports numerous educational and cultural initiatives, including schools and synagogues. Leviev’s investments in real estate and infrastructure projects have also created jobs and spurred economic growth in various regions.

Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff established the Graff Diamonds Foundation, which focuses on supporting health, education, and the arts. His philanthropic efforts include funding for schools, hospitals, and programs aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged communities.

Ehud Laniado

Ehud Laniado was involved in various charitable activities, particularly those supporting underprivileged children and educational initiatives. His legacy includes contributions to causes aimed at improving quality of life for many individuals.


The diamond industry is as complex as it is captivating, shaped by a handful of influential figures whose business acumen, strategic investments, and commitment to ethical practices have left an indelible mark. Nicky Oppenheimer, Lev Leviev, Laurence Graff, and the late Ehud Laniado each represent different facets of this multifaceted industry, from traditional mining to luxury retail and ethical sourcing. Their stories of rise to wealth, impact on the market, and philanthropic efforts offer a glimpse into the high-stakes world of diamonds.

As the industry continues to evolve, these leaders and their companies will need to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Whether through embracing technological advancements, addressing consumer concerns about sustainability, or navigating the complexities of global markets, the future of the diamond industry will be shaped by those who can innovate and lead with vision and integrity.

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