Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Meet the businesswoman a cut above in world of diamonds

27 March 2016, 15:08

London - Nigerian Thelma West is a rare gem in the diamond world as a woman in a male-dominated sector with few Africans, despite the continent being the main source of the precious rocks.

The first in her family to work in diamonds, West is used to being an outsider, having been raised in a Jewish family in a country where Jews number fewer than 50,000 out of a population of around 180 million.

"I'm the only Nigerian Jewish woman in the trade, and I don't know of other African women in the business," the 32-year-old told AFP at her London-based business as she greeted customers with a broad smile and sparkling diamonds on her hands and wrists.

Also read: Tinubu blasts Buhari's minister

Discretion and security are essential, with the anonymous-looking building guarded by an encrypted intercom system and a reinforced door, all under the gaze of a bank of security cameras.

Lagos to Antwerp

After attending the most prestigious international school in Lagos, West travelled to Britain aged 16 to finish her education.

"I wanted to become an engineer because at that time in Nigeria, you had to choose a solid career, such as doctor, lawyer, engineer," she told AFP.

But, as the saying goes, "Diamonds Are Forever" and the sparkle of the stones, which had captivated West since childhood, was an irresistible allure.

"My mum had loads of jewellery," said the daughter of a Guinness drinks company employee mother and a property developer and industrialist father.

"We were always playing with her jewellery box and she would always clean her jewels, and I would help."

West headed for Antwerp, the world's diamond capital, aged 17 despite "not knowing anybody" in the Belgian city.

There, she enrolled at the internationally renowned Hoge Raad Voor Diamant school to hone her skills.

"Even though you go to school, most of your knowledge comes from working with diamonds day-to-day," she said.

After trying for six months in vain to secure an internship, she was eventually taken under the wing of an Orthodox Jew diamond dealer, who worked with her every evening after school for a year.

She was then recruited by one of the biggest diamond suppliers in Europe based in Spain.

"It was being sent in at the deep end," she recalled. "I was 19 and I was responsible for every single diamond the company had".

Teaming up with school friends from Lagos who had moved into investment banking, West set up her own business in London to trade the precious stone.

Exclusive client list

Metal tongs in hand, West explained the secrets of some of her stock.

"Diamonds have fire," said West.

"That stone is too flat but it's got a lot of life in it, it was cut about 100 years ago," she said, pointing to one tiny rock.

"This one cost just over 100,000 ($141,000, 126,000 euros), it's got a low colour but it has been cut perfectly so it reflects light in such an amazing way."

Fewer than 50 clients, 12 of whom are investors, have access to West's knowledge.

"I can find a diamond and call them and say 'we have to buy this diamond, trust me' and they follow me," she said.

Her multinational client base, introduced by word-of-mouth, includes Swiss, Russians, Ghanaians, Nigerians and "a handful of French".

Helped by a 10-woman team, West creates all of her company's products, which come with a lifetime guarantee. Her most ambitious creation was a custom-made necklace worth around 2 million.

She plans to open a workshop in Nigeria, "where I'll train girls in the art of making jewellery".

West gives little away but also said she is creating "a revolutionary tool" that will help people in her business.

"That tool should be part of every diamond dealer and every shop".



EFCC arrests former FCT minister

25 October 2016, 12:27

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...