Diamonds / Industry

Longtime De Beers Exec Rory More O’Ferrall Dies


Rory More O’Ferrall, De Beers’ former director of external affairs and an active participant in industry groups, died on May 14, De Beers confirmed.

O’Ferrall began his career with De Beers Group after six years in the British army, where he attained the rank of captain. He joined the company’s Central Selling Organization in 1971 as a diamond buyer and spent five years in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Sierra Leone, and Antwerp.

Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, O’Ferrall handled De Beers rough sales for Belgium, the U.S., Israel, and the Far East. In 1986, he became De Beers’ sales manager.

In 1998, he moved to corporate communications. De Beers appointed him director of corporate affairs in 2000, then director of external affairs in 2004.

In the early 2000s, O’Ferrall helped develop De Beers’ policy on “conflict diamonds” and was instrumental in the creation of the World Diamond Council and the Kimberley Process.

“The fight against conflict diamonds has demonstrated to this fractured industry that it is possible to come together and accomplish something,” he said in 2002. “I hope that will be one of the defining features of our industry going forward.”

During the period when De Beers was prohibited from operating in the United States, O’Ferrall was one of its first executives to travel here, eventually paving the way for De Beers’ settling its legal issues in the United States.

He retired in 2007, after 36 years with the company. In 2013, he became vice chairman of the Diamond Development Initiative.

His work for the diamond industry earned him an honorary life memberships in the London Diamond Bourse & Club and in CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, as well as a “distinguished service” award from the New York Diamond Dealers Club.

A De Beers statement called O’Ferrall “a great storyteller, a fantastic friend, and a gentleman through and through. He will be much missed.”

The World Diamond Council wrote on LinkedIn: “Rory was truly a legend in our industry, known for his kindness, courage, wisdom, and generosity …Let’s honor Rory’s memory by carrying on his important work and striving for a diamond industry built on integrity and compassion.”

He is survived by his partner, Andrew McCullough.

(Photo courtesy of De Beers)

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By: Rob Bates

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