By Michelle Graff

De Beers spokeswoman Lynette Gould confirmed last week that the diamond giant is slashing 25 percent of its U.K. staff, cutting down the number of employees for the Diamond Trading Co. (DTC), Forevermark and "De Beers Group functions," from about 420 to 320.

Not having covered this industry all that long, the gravity of this statement did not hit me fully until one of our readers pointed out (via the virtual comments section of the National Jeweler Web site) that the DTC alone used to employ about 1,000 people in London.

Now they have less than half that amount for three operations.

Checking this figure with Gould, I found out that our reader's observation was indeed correct: The DTC had about 1,000 employees in London in the mid 1990s.

Since that time, however, that number has been dwindling, not because of De Beers shifting sorting operations to Africa—aggregation to Botswana, Gould told me, accounted for only about 30 job losses in London—but rather to "streamlined efficiencies."

All of this begs the question: Will there come a time, perhaps sooner than some have predicted, that we will see the last of De Beers in London?

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