LONDON — De Beers Diamond Jewellers has appointed Francois Delage to the post of chief executive officer.

This story first appeared in the May 26, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Delage, who is ceo of the new De Beers diamond brand Forevermark, succeeds Guy Leymarie, who will step down in January when his contract ends. Delage, 44, will report to De Beers Diamond Jeweller’s board. The news confirms a report on Friday.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which owns the jewelry company in a joint venture with De Beers, said Leymarie was resigning to pursue other interests. “I did six years at De Beers and I think we built very solid foundations,” Leymarie told WWD on Friday. “It’s a business model that’s proved to be resilient, so now it’s time for me to go on to new challenges.”

Leymarie, who joined De Beers in 2004, helped to spearhead the jewelry brand’s expansion into new markets, the U.S. in particular. In 2005, Leymarie oversaw the opening of a 6,000-square-foot De Beers flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue and later that year opened a store on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive.

The jewelry house now has 40 stores worldwide, and in 2007 the brand launched an e-commerce site in the U.S. “To have put the brand on the retail map is something I’m quite proud of,” Leymarie said.

As for his future projects, Leymarie said he has “some concrete ideas that I now have to make happen — maybe build up my own company.” Leymarie served as ceo of Cartier from 2001 to 2002, a company he joined in 1986. He also headed Dunhill, another Compagnie Financìere Richemont company, from 1999 to 2000.

Before joining Forevermark two years ago, Delage was president of Louis Vuitton Asia-Pacific. De Beers launched Forevermark as a brand of diamonds selected for their ultra-high quality, and the diamonds are guaranteed to have been responsibly sourced and to have benefited the local communities where they were mined. The Forevermark brand has so far only launched in Asia, but the company eventually plans to launch the brand in more markets. De Beers tapped Stephen Lussier as Forevermark’s ceo while remaining the group executive director for external and corporate affairs.