By Michelle Graff
London--In a lengthy presentation Monday, De Beers executives gave Anglo American PLC investors an overview of its diamond business, highlighting financial transparency, supply-demand dynamics and the company’s beliefs in brands. 

The presentation, the latest in a line in which this once very quiet company shared data from its new Diamond Insight Report, took place Monday afternoon in London, and was broadcast live over the Internet. 

It served as a window for investors into a business that was long family-owned and might still seem shrouded in secrecy to some. The presentation also, as Bloomberg noted Monday, was held to convince investors that buying shares in Anglo is “the best way to gain exposure to a commodity that’s … outperforming any of the other major products the company mines.” 

The presentation came almost exactly a month after an October meeting in New York in which De Beers’ executives attempted to pique banks’ interest in the diamond industry. In an industry that has relied on handshake deals for generations, the diamond miner and marketer has begun to demand more complete audits from the companies that buy its diamonds in an effort to make the industry more bankable. 

The issue of financial transparency came up again Monday, as did the role of brands in the future of diamonds. This future includes Forevermark, the diamond brand from De Beers built around traceability from mine to market that is sold in more than 400 stores in the United States. 

De Beers said today’s consumer has a growing desire for both ethical sourcing and branded diamonds. According to the Diamond Insight Reports, in 2013 36 percent of U.S. consumers reported buying a branded diamond, up from 22 percent in 2011 and 7 percent in 2002. 

Brands, De Beers CEO Philippe Mellier said, are the future. While the company’s “A Diamond is Forever” tagline is deemed to be among the most effective marketing slogans of all time, De Beers is “changing with the times.” 

“We are focusing today on Forevermark,” he said. “It’s a big diamond brand.” 

Forevermark currently is sold in about 1,500 doors in 34 markets, including the 400-plus stores in the U.S. Next, De Beers plans to launch the brand in the United Kingdom and bring it to “many more” countries worldwide, Mellier said. 

As De Beers has done for years, Monday’s presentation also stressed the anticipated supply-demand gap for diamonds in the future, as no new major mines come online and demand grows due to the middle class of emerging markets. 

One analyst challenged the company’s assertion during the question-and-answer session following the presentation, noting that “every year we see this chart”--referencing the supply-demand chart on page 14 of the Diamond Insight Report that shows diamond demand increasing while production drops--but the great run-up in diamond prices De Beers predicts never follows.

Finance Director Gareth Mostyn replied that De Beers believes there is “a very positive outlook for the industry” and noted that long-term, diamond prices have had to recover from the hit they took in 2008 and 2009. “We think it (the chart) is directionally accurate,” he said. 

Anglo American holds an 85 percent stake in De Beers, having bought out the Oppenheimer family in 2012. The government of Botswana owns the remaining 15 percent.  

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