(Epstein 1982) A cartel limits the supply of a product in order to keep prices high and to limit competition. (South African Pocket Oxford Dictionary: 2002) This raises the question of whether diamonds are actually worth their price. This essay focuses on the origins and the basic theory behind the diamond cartel; the early operation of the cartel; De Beers’ strong market campaign; determining De Beers’ current economic benefit and the true worth of diamonds. Origins of diamond cartel The diamond cartel began in 1888 shortly after shareholders in the diamond mining industry found out that diamonds were abundant in South Africa. The shareholders realized that the value of diamonds would be little and they were concerned about their investments.
Diamonds have long been considered some of the most prized and sought after possessions. They have been perceived as indicators of wealth and romance. The diamond market however; has been one of the most controversial and controlled markets in history run by a cartel “…an association of suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition” (Oxford English dictionary) formed to prevent the market from becoming flooded with diamonds from too many suppliers, resulting in a price drop. This essay will argue for the statement that the price of diamonds is too high. It will analyse the diamond market as well as De Beers control over the diamond market and explain how the diamond cartel managed to gain almost complete control over all operations.
[Online] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/304575/ [Accessed 13 APRIL 2014]. Kelliher, M. A., n.d. Diamonds are forever: An economic investigation. [Online] [Accessed 14 april 2014]. Kohler, et al., 2010. Global and South African Persepctive.
Secondly, the structure of the diamond market today. Finally, how the history as well as market structure have led to high prices of diamonds. Soon after the discovery of diamonds, Cecil john Rhodes came to South Africa and got involved in diamond mining, he eventually began purchasing mines. It was not long after this that Rhodes as well as a number of other suppliers began to realise that the increasing number diamonds flowing into Europe would lead to a decrease in demand (Spar, 2006). “The major investors in the diamond mines realized that they had no alternative but to merge their interests into a single entity that would be powerful enough to control production and perpetuate the illusion of scarcity of diamonds” (Epstein, 1982).
“The price of diamonds is too high” The international diamond cartel and more prominently De Beers, has used its dominant power and manipulation to create an illusion that has existed in the diamond market since the company was established in the 1880’s. The illusion of diamonds being rare and scarce led consumers to believe that their value would last forever and eliminated the option of resale in their eyes. This illusion is also what caused consumers to accept the prices of diamonds, a price that is inevitably too high. The modern diamond industry was launched in 1867 by the accidental discovery of diamonds in South Africa. This was an industry that would soon be taken over by an Englishman, Cecil Rhodes, who arrived in Kimberly Mine in 1874.
The Price of Diamonds Is Too High The price of diamonds has been controlled, up until recently, by cartels. Cartels are formed when suppliers of a particular product or service formally agree not to compete with one another. Cartel agreements usually determine the price, output and supply levels as well as where and to whom the product will be distributed to. De Beers is one of the commonly heard names with regard to diamonds. Up until recently De Beers controlled the diamond industry.
34).Through this, a cartel was born and this commenced the world monopoly for the sale of diamonds (Browne, 2012, Pg. 34). Ever since a cartel was put in place the price of diamonds has been too high. This essay is going to discuss why the price of diamonds is too high and will do so by looking at how the cartel sets the price of diamonds and what the price of diamonds would be in the absence of a cartel. Rhodes had identified two problems within the diamond trade.
There is no disputing that the price of diamonds is high, but what needs to be asked – is whether it is too high. The diamond industry is controlled by DeBeers, a well-known international cartel. A cartel is formed when businesses agree to act together for an anti-competitive purpose instead of competing against each other. Cartel members make more profit than they would if they competed fairly through price-setting. This means that goods and services become more expensive.
People have different ways of valuing a diamond. Some people look at the sentimental value, and some people consider the price of diamonds in their valuation process. So is it fair to say that the price of diamonds is too high? In this essay I will be discussing the validity of this statement with reference to the market of the diamond industry, the diamond cartel, how the price of diamonds is set, and the implications thereof. Before I analyse the topic, I shall discuss the history of the diamond cartel.
Statement: “The price of diamonds is too high.” The diamond cartel is the most successful and long-lasting cartel in history. The cartel created a scarcity for diamond and stabilized the prices at a high level. This essay will be discussing the validity of the statement with reference to the market of the diamond industry, history of the diamond cartel, how the price of diamonds is determined, and the implications thereof. “A cartel is a group of firms acting together…to limit output, raise prices, and increase economic profit.” (Parkin et al., 2013:312) The diamond cartel formed when diamonds were discovered in South Africa. This discovery, in 1870, brought a rush of prospectors to South Africa to search for alluvial diamonds.