The Eureka Diamond & The Emergence of De Beers Consolidated Mines
Imagine a warm afternoon circa the 1800s. You’re taking a stroll along the river and stumble upon a transparent rock. A rock of which you (or anyone in your town for that matter) has never come across before. Let’s take it a step further to say that rock was and still is known as the Eureka Diamond. The discovery of this mysterious “transparent rock” marked the beginning of the explosive diamond production in South Africa. Prior to this, Brazil had been the primary source for diamonds for over 150 years. The diamond weighed in at 21.25 carats before it was later cut to a 10.73 carat cushion shaped beauty!
A common trend in diamond mining was to combine with smaller groups to form larger ones. With that being said, Mr. Cecil Rhodes began buying up diamond fields and monopolizing the market.
Starting off as competitors, Barney Barnato and Cecil Rhodes would later merge in 1888 to form De Beers Consolidated Mines. Within a few short years, De Beers became the owner of just about every South African diamond production site.
By the time Rhodes passed away in 1902, De Beers (South Africa) controlled 90% of the world’s rough-diamond production and distribution.
Scientifically, it makes sense that copious amounts of diamonds can be found in South Africa. These entrepreneurs had a field day with supply because Africa in general is home to the highest concentration of volcanic pipes. These pipes contain the rocks needed to transport diamonds violently out of the Earth’s mantle. For the diamonds to actually take form another type of rock is needed as well, but we can discuss that later.