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To diamonds from DIAMONDS

Nov 18th, 2015

To diamonds from DIAMONDS

Historic background

When diamonds were first discovered in Lichtenburg, South Africa (circa 1926), it caused a huge rush as prospectors and ‘want to be miners’ rushed to the area to ‘claim’ their fortune. One of those wannabee miners was my late father Flip Botha (Phillip), who decided that farming is just too much work with too little reward. He sold his farm which bordered the Mooi River (Beau River) in Reismierbult (Termite Hill). With cash in hand he purchased a truck and the necessary mining equipment and moved to the ‘diggings’ as the mining areas of Lichtenburg were called in those days. The ‘future’  however, was not as ‘bright’ as my dad and mom thought it was going to be. The diamonds were small and the values pretty low. A few of my older siblings were born on the diggings and times were tough and even more so when the great depression of the 1930’s came around.With the diamond market tanking my dad decided to move with the family to Johannesburg to eke out a new life for themselves.

Fast forward fifty years.

In 1989 I received news of a large diamond that was discovered by a certain miner and decided to give him a call. He informed me that I was welcome to come and view the diamond and make an offer on it. My cousin and I got into the car and we drove out the next day. We arrived at the miner’s homestead and after exchanging small talk for a while he brought the diamond out. What a diamond – a whopping 86 carat! On close inspection the diamond appeared to have some challenges, but it also had some potential. We figured it was worth around R325,000 (South African Rand), which roughly equated to around $100,000 at the prevailing exchange rate at that time. We placed our bid in a sealed envelope to be opened on the day when the winner was  to be announced. Well the day came and we were told that our bid was not successful. I had total peace of mind as I figured that we offered true market value for the diamond.

Now for the interesting part.

One bidder insisted to be present when the tender envelopes were opened. When all the numbers were read out, he said: ‘I guess it is my diamond then’ The owner said: ‘Sorry, R100,000 does not quite cut it’. The buyer retorted: ‘Look again.’ The seller could not believe his eyes. The offer was for R1,000,000, which was just over $300,000. The next closest bid was R375,000. So, something appeared to be wrong with he picture, but we did not know how wrong. It only became clear once the buyer had cut and polished the diamond. Rumor has it that the company he represented lost 60% on their investment. Needless to say the buyer was pulled from the buying team.

Now for the really interesting part.

By this time my dad had passed away and I asked my mom where their family farm was located. She told me it was at a place called Reismierbult. Then I probed her for the exact location. She described the location with all the topographical detail and landmarks. I was blown away by the fact that the diamond came from none other but their family farm! Amazing how things can happen in life and how fortunes can elude a person. Here was my dad selling his farm which, unknown to him at that time, had these large diamonds in the river bed yet he moved away from there to an area that really did not produce any diamonds of significance at all. On the contrary it provided only a meager existence for our family. My dad moved away from DIAMONDS to diamonds and missed out on a real bonanza!

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