Vital Mission For The Industry: Telling The Story Of The Good Diamonds DoMay 25, 17
Diamonds do a great deal of good. Of that there can be no doubt, but do the end-consumers know it?
I can't claim to have carried out any scientific polling of the public, but purely based on conversations with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers over the course of many years, the answer is fairly clear: they don't. It's been said many times before, but it deserves to be repeated, that the diamond industry does not do enough to inform consumers about the benefit that diamonds bring to families across the globe.
And that leaves the playing field empty for some companies in the lab-grown sector, for example, to claim that natural mined diamonds are somehow destructive: that's to say they cause environmental damage, they lead to conflicts and are mined using slave labor. Without a response from the mined, natural diamond industry, the unknowing consumer is left with little choice but to believe such claims.
They do not know of the widespread corporate social responsibility projects that are put in place by many diamond mining firms in order to minimize the impact of mining. Monitoring the environment – air, water and land – to check that toxic elements are not present. Planting a wide range of flora and fauna to resuscitate the land. Schools, clinics and other much-needed infrastructure.
And then there are jobs and income. Across Africa, diamond mining provides an income for many scores of thousands of families. In India, as many as 1,000,000 people are estimated to be employed in the diamond, gems and jewelry industry. Impossible to know exactly how many families those one million workers support, but clearly it is a significant number.
Then there are the many thousands of people involved in one way or another in the other main centers – Antwerp, Ramat Gan, New York, Hong Kong and many other places – making a livelihood and paying taxes. There's the knock-on effect for countless other businesses enjoying the impact of being located close to diamond bourses – from cafes and restaurants to copy shops and convenience stores and many more besides. The economic activity created is practically impossible to calculate, but it is clearly enormous.
And then there are organizations, such as the Diamond Empowerment Fund, which works to support initiatives that develop and empower people in diamond communities worldwide by providing education and skills training for young people to enable them to lead a better life. Similarly, the Diamond Development Initiative works to transform artisanal mining into a source of sustainable development by bringing the largely unregulated and informal artisanal mining sector into the formal economy in ways that benefit miners, their communities, regional and national economies, and the diamond and jewelry industry.
And what about the Kimberley Process? How many consumers know that the diamond trade is so serious about regulating itself that it pushed for the creation of the KP and that government and civil society groups are equally involved in making KP decisions?
Let us not kid ourselves; the diamond industry is not some sort of philanthropic organization. Of course firms aim to make a profit, that's what businesses do. Otherwise, they may just as well close down and move on to something else. But the business is a highly self-regulated trade with an extraordinary number of people who care deeply about its reputation and doing the right thing.
I am not quite sure how, but the industry simply has to get that message out. Perhaps it could be part of the remit of the Diamond Producers Association which is working so hard to attract the Millennials market to diamond jewelry. After all, it's precisely the Millennials who are asking those hard-hitting questions about how the industry operates and whether we are being fair to the environment and to diamond miners.