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The Elite Club That Rules the Diamond World Is Starting to Crack

Being chosen as a De Beers buyer has long been considered the industry’s highest achievement, but the once lucrative profits are vanishing.

FOR DIAMOND STORY ONLY DO NOT REUSE
Illustration: Cynthia Kittler

It’s one of the world’s most exclusive clubs, known over the years as the Syndicate, the Central Selling Organization and the Diamond Trading Company.

For more than a century, De Beers has sold most of its rough diamonds to a select number of customers, a list that reads like a who’s who of the opaque gem-trading world. Tiffany & Co., Graff Diamonds and Signet Jewelers Ltd. all own subsidiaries in this group, guaranteeing a steady supply of gems with the pedigree of being vetted by De Beers.