Gemfields picks ex-De Beers boss Bruce Cleaver as new chair

Bruce Cleaver. (Image courtesy of De Beers Group.)

Emeralds and rubies miner Gemfields (LON: GEM) (JSE: GML) has appointed former De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver as chair and independent non-executive director, effective July 1.

Cleaver, who was at the helm of De Beers for seven years until 2023, will replace Martin Tolcher. The outgoing executive is stepping down after 15 years as a member of Gemfields’ board and almost five as chair of the company.

Gemfields said Cleaver’s experience in the gemstones sector, particularly in Africa, made him an easy pick.

“Bruce’s reputation as a pre-eminent leader is well documented and he brings considerable experience of mining gemstones in Africa and marketing them internationally,” the company said in the statement.

Cleaver’s appointment comes at a difficult time for the coloured gems producer, which swung to a loss in 2023, posting a 23% drop in auction revenue to $242 million from $316 million in 2022.

The incoming chair highlighted the similarities between Gemfields’ business and De Beers’ beginnings and how consistent and reliable supply can deliver remarkable industry growth. 

“Gemfields is a unique and extraordinary business, one that has taken a fragmented and fairly informal industry to considerable sophistication as the first consistent supplier of significant of coloured gemstones in a responsible and transparent manner,” Cleaver said in the statement.

He also noted that the coloured gemstone market has long outlasted the emergence of lab-grown alternatives, as man-made rubies have existed for more than 120 years.

Gemfields has also named Simon Scott as independent non-executive director and Kieran Daly as a non-executive director, starting from July 1. 

Scott, who was formerly the CFO of Lonmin, a platinum group metals miner, currently serves as a non-executive director of First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) and Sylvania Platinum (LON: SLP). 

Daly holds the position of managing director at Assore International Holdings, which has a 29.2% stake in Gemfields and also serves as the growth and strategic development executive at Assore Holdings.