Young trailblazer shines bright like a diamond
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Kealeboga Pule exudes, eloquence, stature and exuberance, coupled with a calm but subtle power when he enters a room.
The 34-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Nungu Diamonds last week announced his partnership with global diamond cutter, polisher and trader Pluczenik Diamond Company.
The company has returned to its roots, re-entering the South African market through a partnership with Pule, who is involved in the diamond industry through his 100% black-owned exclusive jewellery company Nungu Diamonds, which he owns with his wife Ursula.
Raised in Ikopeleng, Mahikeng, in North-West by parents who were teachers, he knew nothing about diamonds until he was about 21 years old.
While in his second year of law school at the University of North West, Pule had a friend whose father was managing a mining operation. He then became curious about how the diamond industry worked.
“My friend told me his father was in the diamond space and I then started looking in the diamond trade and there was a guy at the time named MacDonald Temane, who was a client with the international corporation specialising in diamond mining, De Beers. I harassed him for about a year, wanting to learn from him,” he said.
Temane eventually invited Pule to Johannesburg for a meeting and offered to mentor him when he was finished with his studies. Pule took him up on his offer.
“In 2011, I shadowed this guy wherever he went, spending a year with him. I then became his PA. We went to meetings together and I met people such as the CEO of the State Diamond Trader, where I bought my first parcel of rough diamonds.
“I met the CEO of the regulator where I got to know where you get your licence to be in the diamond trade. Temane introduced me to them and two years later I started Nungu Diamonds,” he said.
Nungu Diamonds has been in existence now for eight years, positioning itself as a South African diamond cutter and polisher, a private diamond retailer and bespoke diamond jewellery brand.
Through the partnership with Pluczenik, a South African factory has been established, Pluczenik SA in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, to be headed by Pule. It is part of Pluczenik’s commitment to invest in the local economy, thus creating job opportunities, skills development and bringing new technology in the scarce downstream diamond beneficiation process.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Pule said it was an exciting opportunity, and one that was a dream come true for any young person in the diamond industry.
“The historic and full circle announcement is not only a reflection of Pluczenik's pledge of ploughing back where it all began, but a commitment to increased job creation after the industry was hard hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Nungu Diamonds currently employs 30 people and looks to employ 200 people over the next three years.
“There is a lot more work we look to do. I never want to deny that South Africa has a horrible past when it comes to diamonds, but where people like myself and other young people should be coming into a trade like this, our view should be we’re still mining here. We need to focus on what the future can look like. The future for our kids must be that diamonds are not a far-away concept for them,” he said.
Pluczenik CEO Chaim Pluczenik said the time had come for them to have a cutting and polishing factory in SA.
“Our heart has always been in South Africa, where my family established the company over 70 years ago. The time is now right for us to have a new cutting and polishing factory in the country to help it meet its beneficiation objectives and support communities in a country where diamonds have a long history and heritage,” he said.
He added that “what better way than to partner up with a young local entrepreneur like Pule, who has made great strides within the industry”.