Ch. 5: And Son (Oppenheimer)

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ehester to Kimberley's New York as a smart residential quarter. The diamond trade had undergone a bad depression since Ernest's arrival in South Africa; in 1907 the mines actually closed down for a space. About the same time something else happened that was calculated to put wrinkles into De Beers' brows. Troubles always seemed to grow in clusters in South Africa. This time it was the discovery of diamonds at Liideritz-bucht on the coast of German South-West Africa. The dia­mond trade shuddered in any case, at every new discovery, but this was worse than most because it wasn't in territory that the Syndicate could control. Although for the moment the produc­tion at Lüderitz, as the settlement on the bay is called, was irregular, depending as it did on diggers, and the diamonds were very small, it was probably only a matter of time before the Germans would organize it and start mining in earnest, and what might happen then didn't look too rosy for the South African diamond-mining people. At least that is how the situa­tion appeared to Ernest Oppenheimer, and though other dia­mond men didn't seem to worry as much as he did once the first shock had passed, De Beers asked him to go and have a look at the German fields. In 1914, early in that significant year, he did go to Lüderitz with Alpheus Williams, a geologist, the son of Gardner Williams. In their report they assessed the possibilities of the fields and the probable productive life of each section. Oppenheimer's calculations based on these obser­vations have since turned out to be remarkably accurate. Through the offices of the keenly interested government of South Africa the leading diamond producers, including the Ger­mans, held a conference and agreed to go in all together in the matter of control. This gratified the South Africans, as until
Ch. 5: And Son (Oppenheimer) Page of 303 Ch. 5: And Son (Oppenheimer)
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