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Diamond Broker Willie Nagel Dies

Jul 20, 2021 6:52 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Willie Nagel, a legendary diamond broker and pioneer of the Kimberley Process (KP), died on July 14, according to an announcement by his family in London’s Jewish Chronicle.

Nagel was born in 1925 in Czernowitz, then part of Romania, according to a 2018 profile in The Daily Telegraph. He came to London to study law, but he ended up brokering diamond deals: He started off working for dealer Albert Triefus and later established his own business, W Nagel. In 1959, he became a De Beers sight broker, ensuring clients received the right goods from the miner in the right volumes.

His involvement in the war on conflict diamonds began when the British Foreign Office asked him to appear in front of a commission and present a plan to stop the trade in tainted gems, according to The Jewish Chronicle. The danger at the time was that the US could ban the import of diamonds, the newspaper said.

He hadn’t prepared anything. “But while talking to them, it came to me,” he recalled. “I said: ‘If you want to save this business, the only way is to establish a worldwide system whereby, if I export to another diamond firm, then I have to give a guarantee that my goods aren’t blood diamonds.’” This led to the formation of the Kimberley Process.

Nagel’s firm was in the headlines only two-and-a-half years ago, when a decades-old verbal agreement with diamond manufacturer Pluzcenik ended up in court. His firm disagreed with the erstwhile client about the details of a 1994 verbal pact between Nagel and the late Isaac Pluzcenik, leading to a lawsuit.

He developed a broad network of contacts in and out of the diamond industry. Photographs show him at close quarters with Queen Elizabeth II, the late UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Princess Diana.

“Willie Nagel was a larger-than-life personality who tried his best to promote the interests of the industry,” said Rapaport Group Chairman Martin Rapaport. “He was among those of an earlier generation who supported bringing high society into the industry.”

Image: Willie Nagel. (De Beers)
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Tags: Albert Triefus, Conflict Diamonds, De Beers, Isaac Pluzcenik, Kimberley Process, KP, Margaret Thatcher, Martin Rapaport, obituaries, Pluzcenik, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, Rapaport News
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