Van Moppes - the origins
Levie Jacob (Levie, son of Jacob) was born 1749 in Amsterdam. On December 18, 1811, at the age of 62, on the introduction of Napoleonic Law concerning Civil Administration, he had to adopt a family name. He chose 'Van Moppes', for himself, his children and grandchildren. He was the founder of a dynasty which was to include many generations of diamond merchants and diamond cutters.
(2) Samson Levie Van Moppes (1780-1849) was a fruit merchant, but one of his 8 children was going to be the first of a worldwide family of diamond merchants and diamond cutters.
(3) Levie Samson Van Moppes (1809-1881) was a diamond cutter himself and the father of 15 children, who mostly worked in the diamond industry and several of them became famous diamond merchants.
(4) Meyer Louis Van Moppes (1838-1908) was an established diamond merchant. In order to further expand his business, he sent his son Louis Meyer to England. (Another of his sons, Aron, founded the Dutch company that later became A. Van Moppes & Zoon in 1875).
L.M. Van Moppes & Sons Ltd
Van Moppes in England, a thriving industrial diamond industry:
(5) Louis Meyer Van Moppes (1858-1943) emigrated to England in 1893, to provide the expanding mechanical industries with what was then a new commodity: industrial diamond. He gave his name to the first L.M. Van Moppes & Sons Ltd company,which was registered in 1917, the year he retired from the business.
(6) Meyer Louis Van Moppes (1881-1963) had joined the business in 1899. He set up numerous agencies world-wide (one of them in Switzerland around 1920, which was to become L.M. Van Moppes & Sons SA in 1952). The first diamond tools were produced in 1915. Meyer Louis Van Moppes retired in 1950. His three sons were then running the company:
(7) Lewis E. Van Moppes O.B.E. (1904-1986) who had joined in 1925, Edmund M. Van Moppes (1908-1988) in 1927 and Robert Van Moppes (1916-1968) in 1946.
During the second world war, Van Moppes played a role of national interest, particularly through pre-emptive purchases of Brazilian diamonds, which helped the Allied war effort. The London offices were destroyed by bombs in 1941, without ever stopping its activity. In1947, the business was split into three companies: L.M. Van Moppes Sons Ltd for the merchandising of diamonds, L.M. Van Moppes Sons (Diamond Tools) Ltd for the production of diamond tools and Diadust Ltd for the grading of micron diamond powders. Diamond tool manufacturing had expanded considerably and in 1950 the business was relocated from London to a purpose-built factory in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
(8) Nicolas Van Moppes (1937-1979), son of Edmund, was the last member of the family running the business. He unfortunately died in an air crash in Nice on September 3, 1979.
In 1969, the Van Moppes businesses merged with Universal Grinding Wheel Co Ltd, which became Unicorn plc and then went through a series of mergers and takeovers.
L.M. Van Moppes & Sons SA
The Van Moppes agency in Switzerland, operated by Michel Picot (1892-1983), had long been selling boart to the Swiss jewel bearing manufacturers and started selling graded micron diamond powders as early as 1945. During the war, Michel Picot had made a very special contribution to the Allied war effort. Since his time as a lieutenant and pilot in the Flying Corps of the British army during the first world war, he had retained a close relationship with the British Embassy in Switzerland. To help the Allied industries staying operational during the 2nd world war, he contributed to smuggling diamond drawing dies from France to the UK, a somewhat dangerous activity. In 1943, he narrowly escaped arrest on the road between Geneva and Trévoux, on the way to collecting diamond dies in exchange for gold coins! Michel Picot retired in 1963.
L.M. Van Moppes Sons SA was registered in 1952 and left the Unicorn Group in 1995, with its company name reflecting a very long industrial diamond tradition.
Jean Freinhofer joined in 1953 and became managing director in 1963. He spent a lifetime striving for perfection in micron diamond powder production and quality inspection, to best serve a market that changed significantly, becoming ever more demanding in terms of product diversity, product quality and delivery consistency. Our first automated grading machines were developed shortly after the whole micron powder operation was transferred to Geneva in 1978. ISO 9002 Certification was obtained in 1991, followed by the ISO 9001 Certification in 2001.
Christophe Bangerter joined in 1994 and became managing director in January 2005, Jean Freinhofer remaining chairman of the board and quality manager until retirement at the end of 2008. Van Moppes has now developed into a global supplier of micron and mesh size diamond powders, with a world-wide reputation backed by over 60 years of experience. Its very elaborate micron powder inspection system, possibly the most demanding system used in the trade, has been extended to include mesh sizes in the grinding range.
Some diamond powder grading experiments had been carried out by Lewis H. Phillips in 1938 and the first commercially graded micron powders were sold in 1942, to allow the UK wire drawing factories to service their diamond drawing dies, since they had lost access to their traditional French suppliers during the war. This picture shows some of the early grading equipment, photographed in 1950.
In 1978, the whole micron powder operation was moved to L.M. Van Moppes & Sons SA in Geneva. This is the time when the micron powder business really started expanding, with the development of modern, automated grading techniques, as well as a particularly performing and accurate quality inspection system. Van Moppes became a reference company for the quality, precision and consistency of its diamond powders.
Based on its 60 years experience in micron powders and its recognised market presence, the company then expanded its activity to diamond and CBN mesh sizes in the grinding range. In this area also, it has become a major player, through its innovative approach and excellent customer service.
Note: The Diadust trademark was registered in 1943, Syndia in 1962 and Supersyndia in 1969. They remain our registered trademarks for our micron diamond powders and are protected worldwide.
A History of Logos
The logo used on company documents and product labels has changed on several occasions in the course of our company's history. The 1947 "dia" logo was designed when the original 'Diadust' company launched the first commercial micron diamond powders. The 1969 Unicorn logo prevailed during the period of Unicorn Group ownership and the 1996 version followed as Van Moppes left the Unicorn group of companies.
The 2012 "Van Moppes" logo is the current one. It was created together with a re-design of our company image and the publication of this web site.