The Oppenheimer family (De Beers) and Laurence Graff, from Graff Diamonds, still rank among the world’s richest while the founder of Firestar Diamonds is a “new billionaire” according to the Forbes’ annual list of the world’s wealthiest people.
Nicky Oppenheimer and family are No. 205 on the list, worth an estimated $6.7 billion. After more than eight decades in the diamond business, the Oppenheimers sold their remaining stake in De Beers to Anglo American in 2012.
Graff ranks No. 305 on the Forbes’ list. The 75 year old, a United Kingdom citizen whose residence is listed as Gstaad, Switzerland, has an estimated fortune of $4.8 billion. The source of his wealth is described by Forbes as “diamond jewelry, self made”. Graff dropped out of school at age 14 and began his career in the jewelry industry as an apprentice in London’s Hatton Garden, where he scrubbed toilets as part of his job, according to Forbes.
Laurence Graff holding some gorgeous earrings that should be mine.
Today, Graff is the modern day equivalent of Harry Winston, buying some of the world’s most impressive diamonds, including the 35.56 carat blue Wittelsbach diamond, which he recut and renamed the Wittelsbach-Graff and a 24.78 carat fancy intense pink diamond that he called the “Graff Pink”.
The Graff Pink
New to the Forbes’ list this year is Nirav Modi, nephew of Gitanjali Gems’ Mehul Choksi. Modi is founder of the diamond company Firestar International. Modi, a resident of Mumbai, came in a No. 1,372 with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion.
The heads of three of the world’s largest luxury conglomerates also made the list.
Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, came in at No. 15 with an estimated fortune of $33.5 billion. Francois Pinault and family, head of Kering (formerly PPR) ranks at No. 58 with a fortune of $15.5 billion and South African citizen Johann Rupert, the chairman of Richemont, at No. 173 with $7.6 billion.
Another with a jewelry (or watch) connection, is Esther Grether and family at No. 731 with an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion. Grether is the second largest shareholder in the Swatch Group.
The Bulgari brothers, Nicola and Paolo, tied at No. 1,210 with an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion.
Topping the list again was Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, 58, with an estimated net worth of $76 billion. Mexican telecom giant Carlos Slim Helu and family came in second, with an estimated net worth of $72 billion. Spain’s Amacio Ortega, the founder of the clothing retailer Zara, is the world’s third richest man ($64 billion) with business magnate Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffet at No. 4.
An interesting tidbit, do any of you use the app Viber? I happened upon it because I have a daughter abroad and Viber allows you to phone and send text messages domestically and internationally for free provided the user has WiFi or a 3G connection. Why am I mentioning this? Because, a jewelry industry CEO, Benny Shabtai of the jewelry company DiModolo, was a partner in the messaging application which just sold for $900 million to Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten. The Shabtai family made about $500 million off the sale of the app. A wise investment I would say.
I am ready for that kind of ‘app’ to ‘happ’ to me.