Forbes Diamond Billionaires

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American business magazine Forbes has posted its 28th annual Forbes Billionaires List.   The big news at the top was that Bill Gates was back after slipping to #2 in 2013.   He has topped Forbes’ list 15 out of the last 20 years.

We decided to focus on the five people on the list who made their fortune in the diamond industry.

#205 Nicky Oppenheimer & Family

The 68-year old South African businessman made his fortune as the chairman of the De Beers Diamond company and its subsidiary the Diamond Trading Company.   He followed both his father, Harry Oppenheimer and his grandfather Ernest Oppenheimer in that role.   His current net worth is $6.7 billion.

#305 Laurence Graff & Family

The founder of Graff Diamonds, the 75-year old started as a jewel apprentice and now has a net worth of $4.8 billion.   It was in 1960 when he started his own jewel company focusing on the rich and elite from around the world.   His clients have included actress Elizabeth Taylor and the Sultan of Brunei.  Graff is the owner of two of the world’s most famous colour diamonds, the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond, a 31.06 carat fancy deep blue intense stone and the Graff Pink, a type IIa 24.78 carat pink diamond.

#367 Beny Steinmetz

The 57-year old, currently worth $4.1 billion, has business interests in diamonds, engineering and real estate.  In his 20s, this Israeli businessman moved to Geneva to take over the Steinmetz Diamond Group from his father Robin Steinmetz.  The company became De Beers’ largest buyer of rough diamonds.   Steinmetz Diamond Group were also famous for cutting  the Pink Star, the largest Vivid Pink diamond ever found.

#1284 Lev Leviev

As a teenager, Leviev and his family immigrated from Uzbekistan to Israel where he learned the diamond trade.  Today, at 57 years old, he is considered one of De Beers’ biggest competitors and has a net worth of $1.3 billion.   He has diamond mining interests in places such as Russia, Angola and Alaska and is the owner of the high-end diamond boutique Leviev with locations in New York City, London, Singapore and Dubai.

#1372 Nirav Modi

The youngest person on our list, this 43 year old diamond jewelry designer has a net worth of $1.2 billion.   Modi first made his mark in November 2010 at a Christie’s auction where he sold a necklace that featured with a 12.29 carat Golconda diamond suspended on a pink diamond chain for $3 million. He is currently the sole jewelry supplier to all Armed Forces bases in the United States and is the owner of Firestar Diamond a company with manufacturing outlets in Russia, Armenia and South Africa.   The company also owns owner bridal jewelry retailer A.Jaffe which has stores in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Netherlands-Antilles.

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