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An Open Letter to Mr. Phillipe Mellier

Dear Mr. Mellier,

There is no doubt that De Beers made a superb choice in selecting you as their leader. In 2013 alone, De Beers’ underlying operating profit jumped from $474 million (2012) to $1.003 billion. That is a magnificent accomplishment.

Under your leadership, De Beers has developed a sophisticated linear sequence of specialized modules for divinely conducting diamond pipelining from the mine to the finger. But along the way, De Beers finds itself unintentionally competing with its own customers: the sightholders and the manufacturers.

While De Beers reaps an impressive profit, the diamond industry gets smaller and smaller. Factories are closing all over the world. Legendary diamond companies are shrinking to half their previous sizes, laying off loyal employees. Manufacturers are losing their life savings and many diamontaires find themselves defeated in their efforts to navigate through manufacturing and earn profit in the polished market.

Some simply give up.

The spectacular diamond industry, the one both you and I treasure, is bleeding to death.

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I once heard a story of an old man who was out fishing. While his bait was in the water waiting for a bite, he heard a voice saying, "Hey you, pick me up." He looked around and didn’t see anyone, but again he heard the voice saying, "Hey, you, pick me up!" The old man looked down and saw, floating on the water, a little frog. The frog said for the third time, "Pick me up and kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful woman and all your friends will envy you."


The old man reached down, picked up the little frog and put it in his pocket. "Are you crazy?" said the frog. "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful woman, and you'll be the envy of all your friends."


The old man looked at him and said, "You know what? At my age, I'd rather have a talking frog."

You see, being a sightholder used to be attractive…. the prestige alone was sought after, identical to the prestige of attending an event with a beautiful woman on one’s arm. But just like the old fisherman who wizened with age and therefore chose shrewdly to stick with the talking frog, wouldn’t we all rather keep our money in our pockets today rather than spending it on an (albeit prestigious) club which bites into our profits and squanders potentially an entire life savings? An experienced, prudent diamontaire would elect to give up the prestige, manufacture 50% less, and keep the balance of his money.

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Mr. Mellier, as the head of 90% of the diamond sources in the world, every decision you make causes an earthquake among manufacturers and dealers worldwide. The many families making their living from diamonds, the ones who are the engines driving this industry, depend on you.

You are knowledgeable and have demonstrated success by doubling De Beers’ profits every year. You have earned our collective respect.

I ask you, humbly: Will you kindly lead us to success, as you did for De Beers? Will you save the whole diamond industry by building the perfect pipeline so we can all benefit? Please, rehabilitate the industry before it perishes.

You alone hold the power.


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