De Beers Group is an international corporation that specializes in diamond mining, diamond exploitation, diamond retail, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. The company is active in open-pit, large-scale alluvial and coastal. It operates in 35 countries and mining takes place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Canada and Australia.
From its inception in 1888 until the start of the 21st century, De Beers controlled 80% to 85% of rough diamond distribution and was considered a monopoly. Competition has since dismantled the complete monopoly, though the De Beers Group still sells approximately 29.5% of the world's rough diamond production by value through its global sightholder and auction sales businesses, an effective monopoly, as this still allows it to control prices, inflating them dramatically.
The company was founded in 1888 by British businessman Cecil Rhodes, who was financed by the South African diamond magnate Alfred Beit and the London-based N M Rothschild & Sons bank. In 1926, Ernest Oppenheimer, a German immigrant to Britain and later South Africa who had earlier founded mining company Anglo American with American financier J.P. Morgan, was elected to the board of De Beers. He built and consolidated the company's global monopoly over the diamond industry until his death in 1957. During this time, he was involved in a number of controversies, including price fixing and trust behaviour, and was accused of not releasing industrial diamonds for the U.S. war effort during World War II.