Celebrity Investors: Inside Leonardo DiCaprio’s Diamond Foundry portfolio

Celebrity Backers: Diamond Foundry and actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Upon its founding in 2012, it’s no small wonder that Diamond Foundry attracted investment dollars from a slew of Silicon Valley luminaries including Sun Microsystems cofounder Andreas Bechtolsheim and Facebook cofounder Andrew McCollum.

After all, the San Francisco-based company had developed breakthrough technology: a method for producing “sustainable” diamonds in a reactor that resembles the clarity of ones mined from the earth.

But the star power of a handful of leading technologists pales in significance to that of another early Diamond Foundry investor: actor Leonardo DiCaprio. And in the years since, Diamond Foundry, whose last known valuation (as of April 2021) was $1.86 billion, hasn’t been shy about using DiCaprio’s testimonials about the company for promotional purposes, including an endorsement from the Hollywood superstar. In a testimonial prominently displayed on Diamond Foundry’s home page, DiCaprio is quoted as saying, ‘’I'm proud to invest in Diamond Foundry Inc. - sustainably growing diamonds in America without [the] human & environmental toll of mining.”

The pairing is one in which the celebrity and company’s mission align. DiCaprio, for example, was drawn to Diamond Foundry’s business after starring in the 2006 movie, “Blood Diamond,” a political thriller which sheds light on the inhumane conditions of African diamond mining.

For companies seeking added buzz and prominence, there’s nothing like the boost they can receive when widely respected celebrities are willing to put their names behind a business. There are even consultants who advise startups on how to bring on the right celebrities as partners and investors.

For the celebrity investors, these partnerships provide a way to leverage their personal brands while diversifying their sometimes already large investment portfolios into exciting new areas of the marketplace.

A decade after DiCaprio’s initial investment of an undisclosed sum, Diamond Foundry and other lab-grown diamond producers are catching on like never before as many people see benefits in buying diamonds that are both cheaper and more socially conscious than mined diamonds. An April story in The Wall Street Journal said that diamonds grown in a lab accounted for 13.6% of the $88.6 billion in diamond jewelry sold globally in 2022, up from less than 1% in 2015.

About the Author

John Kimelman is a veteran journalist who has worked at Barron’s and CNBC covering such topics as investing and commercial banking. Mr. Kimelman has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from John.

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