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As big as the Ritz? Leonardo di Caprio opens diamond company in Extremadura
09 September 2021 @ 19:44

GREAT Gatsby star Leonardo di Caprio was so moved by the plight of child miners in Africa when he filmed Blood Diamond that he started up his own company producing synthetic versions – and he now plans to open a branch in the land-locked western Spain region of Extremadura.

Leonardo di Caprio at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival (photo: Siebbi-iPernity/Wikimedia Commons)



Diamonds are not just mined for top-quality jewellery and accessories – they are also used for technology, including mobile phones, and although 'programmed obsolescence' has triggered a European Union 'right to repair' directive that is now about to enter national law in Germany, consumers are still typically buying new handsets every 18 months on average as Apps and other functions stop working on older devices.

To this end, the demand for diamond-mining is increasing, and with it, child slavery, injury and death, and financing of armed conflict.

Leonardo di Caprio saw this first-hand when he played a Rhodesian diamond dealer in 2006, filming on location in Mozambique and mixing with children from an orphanage, and came away so disgusted and distressed that he set up Diamond Foundry in Silicon Valley nine years later.

Such has been the success of Di Caprio 'ethical diamonds' that the Wolf of Wall Street actor, 47, is branching out – across the pond.

The Cáceres-province town of Trujillo and its Arroyo Caballo industrial estate is the chosen location for a 30,000-square-metre warehouse to be set up for the firm whose slogan reads: “Just Diamond. No mining.”

Passionate about the environment and a keen anti-climate change activist, the screen legend who soared to fame against the odds and after years of knockbacks picked out Extremadura for its year-round sun – the Diamond Foundry premises will be 100% solar-powered.

Plasma reactors functioning 24 hours a day and a 120mW solar panel plant on the industrial estate will fuel the factory, since a zero carbon footprint was Di Caprio's top priority when seeking out a suitable spot.

Having created a string of environmental documentary films, starting with the multiple award-winning 11th Hour – about the climate change emergency – through his production company Appian Way, named after a well-known highway in Italy, the Titanic actor works tirelessly outside of Hollywood to raise awareness of the damage the human race causes to the planet.

And his factory will create at least 300 jobs in the province of Cáceres, which authorities there welcome.

Despite often playing ruthless and over-privileged characters, not least the 1920s' party animal Jay Gatsby in the screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novella – an author famous for, among others, and ironically in this case, A Diamond As Big As The Ritz – Di Caprio's journey to cinema fame was hard-won and took decades.

He went into acting primarily to earn fast money to support his divorced mother, who is of Russian and German descent, and father, who is of Italian parentage, but attended over 100 auditions before even getting a bit-part in a TV show.



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