Lazare Kaplan Joins Forces With S. African Investment Group

November 29, 2004

Lazare Kaplan Joins Forces With S. African Investment Group

Lazare Kaplan International Inc. and Nozala Investments (Pty) Ltd. entered into an agreement for cooperation in South Africa's diamond sector, starting with downstream diamond cutting, polishing and distribution as a precursor to prospective joint projects upstream. The program of cooperation is in line with South Africa's announced moves to promote new entrants, investment and impetus in the domestic diamond sector, increasing its contribution to national development and economic priorities. The initial cutting, polishing and distribution venture will actively target local sources of rough diamond supply.

LKI, in its 101st year of operations, is the only publicly traded company specializing in diamond cutting, polishing and distribution in the world's largest market for diamonds, the US. LKI polishes its diamonds in Puerto Rico, Russia, Namibia, China, Thailand and Belgium. LKI has retail clients with outlets on five continents.

Nozala is a women's empowerment investment group which has an ownership base of nearly half a million women through community-based organizations. It aims at sectors in which women have been particularly underrepresented historically and considers mining and minerals a strategic priority.

"Women are the disproportionate recipients of diamond jewelry, and can be found on the shop floor as diamond cutters, but not as owners or in the boardroom. We want to begin redressing that imbalance, and also to add value in South Africa to South African gemstones, too many of which find their way to foreign cutting centers," says Salukazi Dakile-Hlongwane, deputy chairman and CEO of Nozala. "We are pleased to have found a partner that possesses not only world-class skills, but also a reputation for independence, accountability and vision, as evidenced by LKI's status as a founding member of the U.N. Global Compact."

"LKI has been a pioneer in diamond cutting and polishing elsewhere in Africa, and so it is fitting that we are coming now to the place of origin of the continent's diamond industry," says Leon Tempelsman, LKI president and CEO. "We are believers in the future of South Africa's diamond sector, and feel that there is scope for considerable additional U.S. investment in that sector. In Nozala we are confident we have found an ideal partner to join us in our area of core expertise and in exploring additional possibilities upstream as the structure of the local mining industry continues to evolve."

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