Diamonds were first discovered in southern Africa in the mid-1860s on the farm of with two Afrikaner farmers named Diederik Arnoldus De Beers and Johannes Nicholas de Beers, near what is now the city of Kimberley. Two diamond mines dug on the farm, the Kimberley and the De Beers, Johannes Nicholas De Beer, owner of the farm Vooruitzicht (see picture) on which the De Beers and Kimberley mines were discovered in 1871. They had bought this farm in 1860 from the government for GBP 50, and sold out in 1871 to a syndicate for GBP 6,300. An 83.50 carat diamond crystal now known as the Star of South Africa, instigated the international diamond rush to South Africa in 1868. A Dutch digger named Corneilsa was allowed to prospect a farm for a 25% fee to the owners, the de Beer brothers (original spelling). News traveled fast and in a very short time, the de Beer farm was inundated with diggers racing to stake their claims on and beyond the farm's boundaries. Unable to deal with the stress of protecting the farm from the influx of diamond seekers, the de Beer brothers sold their farm in October 1871 for just 6,300 pounds, not realizing the vast wealth that lay beneath the farmland. The town was later named as Kimberly in the honor of the British Colonial Secretary John F. Kimberly who could not pronounce the name of the farm - Vooruizicht!
The De Beer brothers disappear from history at this point, but not before giving their name to one of the world's biggest and best-known companies. The land was home to two large mines were involved in the transaction: Premier and Kimberly.
In the 1870s, almost a decade after the diamond rush began in South Africa, there were still great fortunes to be made, and there were great fortune hunters aiming to make them. One of these was a pale young Englishman who had arrived in South Africa at the age of seventeen, intending to become a cotton farmer. Instead, he wound up in Kimberley where he bought a diamond claim and rented out steam-powered water pumps to other miners when their diggings flooded. On April Fool’s Day, 1880, with assets of 200,000 British Pounds, Cecil John Rhodes, then 28, formed the De Beers Mining Company, merging his own interests with two other syndicates and taking over a major part of the mine on land that had once been the farm of the De Beers brothers. De Beers was founded in South Africa in 1888 and today comprises rough diamond exploration, mining and trading companies.
Huge battles raged through the next few years as two entities emerged on top of the competition to acquire the land. These entities were the Barnato Mining Company formed by Barney Barnato and prospective investors, Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd. While De Beers had already acquired Premier, they wanted Kimberly as well. The buying began, each company ferociously buying up stock in "Kimberly Central." Eventually Rhodes and Rudd won out and forced Barnato to agree to a merger with De Beers. De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was thus formed in 1888. As a group, they owned all of Premier, most of Kimberly, and several other mines. The company was granted an official listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in August 1893.