Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, SV/PROG

Is your surname Oppenheimer?

Research the Oppenheimer family

Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, SV/PROG's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, SV/PROG

Birthplace: Friedberg, Bayern, Deutschland
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Eduard Oppenheimer and Nanette "Nanny" Oppenheimer
Husband of Mary Lina ''May Lina'' Pollack, SM and Lady Caroline "Ina" Magdalen Oppenheimer, SM
Father of Harry Frederick (Frederich) Oppenheimer; Frank Leslie Oppenheimer and Michael Oppenheimer
Brother of Emil Oppenheimer; Otto Oppenheimer; Sir Ernest Oppenheimer Sv / prog; Louis Oppenheimer; Sir Bernard Oppenheimer and 9 others

Occupation: a diamond and gold mining entrepreneur, financier and philanthropist, who controlled De Beers and founded the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa.
Managed by: Hatte Anne Blejer
Last Updated:

About Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, SV/PROG describes re Ernest:

"His first wife, May Pollack, with whom he had two sons, died in 1934, and his son Frank died after a swimming accident in Madeira in 1935. He underwent a spiritual crisis because of these losses, and converted to Christianity that year. A few months later, he wed Caroline "Ina" Harvey, daughter of an English baron and widow of his nephew Michael, who had died in a 1933 plane crash."

Ernest was born in Friedberg, Germany, the son of Eduard Oppenheimer, a cigar merchant. Oppenheimer began his working life at 17, when he entered Dunkelsbuhler & Company, a diamond brokerage in London. His efforts impressed his employer and in 1902, at the age of 22, he was sent to South Africa to represent the company as a buyer in Kimberley, where he eventually rose to the position of mayor.

In 1927, he managed to wrest control of Cecil Rhodes' De Beers empire, building and consolidating the company's global monopoly over the world's diamond industry until his retirement. During this time, he was involved in a number of controversies, including price fixing, antitrust behaviour and an allegation of not releasing industrial diamonds for the US war effort during World War II.[1][2]

He died in Johannesburg in 1957. He was born Jewish, but as an adult converted to Christianity and was buried at St George's Church, Parktown. He was succeeded in the business by his son Harry Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer's brother, Sir Bernard Oppenheimer, was also heavily involved in the diamond industry.

In 1964, the Oppenheimer Diamond was named in his honour by its owner, Harry Winston, who donated the stone (not a gem as it remains uncut and unpolished) to the Smithsonian Institution as a memorial.

view all

Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, SV/PROG's Timeline

May 22, 1880
Friedberg, Bayern, Deutschland
Age 25
October 28, 1908
Age 28
October 17, 1910
Age 30
Age 44
June 1, 1935
Age 55
November 25, 1957
Age 77