The plan turned the global diamond industry upside down. Previously, buyers traveled to London to view the rough gems that De Beers had mined from operations in 28 countries. But for the past two years, as part of the beneficiation process, these buyers have gone to the opposite side of the globe, visiting the capital of Botswana to purchase an annual $6 billion worth of diamonds.
These so-called “sightholder visits,20 of which have taken place because the beneficiation process was launched in 2013, have turned Gaborone into a diamond destination, and locals have been scrambling to benefit from the influx of wealthy merchants. New hotels and restaurants have opened within the capital, and De Beers has even created an enterprise development program to mentor local entrepreneurs in support services prefer it and catering.
But it’s not just that Gaborone has become a diamond-trading Mecca overnight; it has also started to construct up its diamond-processing sector to ready the rough gemstones for sale. Whereas prior to now nearly the entire diamonds were cut and polished abroad, now roughly 15 percent are handled by the 20 or so cutting and polishing operations that have sprouted up within the capital in recent times. These outfits are mostly run by expats, many from India, but they are training local workers to show rough diamonds into the finished gemstones sold directly to Tiffany & Co. and other upmarket retailers, in addition to to a handful of local jewelry manufacturers. In 2013, sales of cut and polished diamonds in Botswana reached nearly half a billion dollars.