Harry Frederick Oppenheimer

Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (1908-2000) was one of the most prominent and important figures in the diamond industry and the son of Ernst Oppenheimer, the founder of the Anglo American Corporation, which took over, what became, the world's largest diamond company, De Beers. Harry Oppenheimer served as chairman of Anglo American and De Beers between 1957 and 1985.

Oppenheimer was born in Kimberley, South Africa, where a large diamond discovery in the 19th century triggered a "diamond rush." He was educated in England, where he received a bachelor's degree from Oxford University in 1931. He then turned to political activity in the South African parliament. 

Political activity Harry Frederick


Oppenheimer openly opposed the apartheid regime instigated by the ruling party in South Africa in the second half of the 20th century, and served as an opposition member in parliament. After his father's death, he devoted all of his time to the family business of the Anglo American Corporation and De Beers.


Anglo American Corporation and De Beers


Ernst Oppenheimer founded the Anglo American Corporation in 1917, and the company eventually took over De Beers. The younger Oppenheimer joined the company and upon his father's death in 1957, was appointed chairman of Anglo American and De Beers. 

He expanded the company's activities from mining to other fields, including banking, real estate, etc. Among other things, he conceived and promoted De Beers' polished 

Soon, he became one of the richest people in the world. Under his leadership, the company's value soared from $4.5 million (in current terms) to about $1.65 billion some 30 years later. Even after retiring, Oppenheimer used to arrive at De Beers' offices and contribute to the company from his experience.


The promotion and marketing of diamonds


Oppenheimer contributed greatly to the promotion and marketing of polished diamonds through advertising, which was never done previously. Many opposed the move, arguing that diamond advertising would make them look cheap, but Oppenheimer argued that increasing public awareness of the luxury product would increase the demand for diamonds among a wider public.

He teamed with American advertising company NW AYER and in 1938 launched the first diamond and diamond jewelry promotional campaign in the United States. The most famous campaign he launched was in 1947, coining the iconic slogan "A diamond is Forever," which was later chosen as one of the 10 best advertising slogans of the 20th century.

Harry Oppenheimer died at the age of 91. His son, Nicholas, took his place and headed De Beers until it was sold to Anglo-American.