Back to the source…

| March 1st, 2019

Back to the source…
"Back to the source…"

Shedding light on every diamond: is this a selling point?

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting article in a French magazine, which was pondering applications that decipher the ingredients in cosmetics labeling. It was only a small step from that to drawing a parallel with traceability in the diamond industry!

“Traceability”: the “unthinkable” word has been uttered. It is hardly frightening anymore!

In the diamond industry, we are seeing a blossoming of initiatives—pilots at this stage—aiming to supply all the possible, justifiable and verifiable information about a diamond. Of course, they do not all have exactly the same functionality or the same operation, but the underlying idea is the same: to provide consumers with guarantees.

There is for example the Tracr platform by De Beers, with the support of ALROSA, Signet Jewelers or Chow Tai Fook; or GIA’s M2M program. Tiffany has just announced that it is laser-etching a Tiffany & Co serial number onto each diamond, featuring information about its provenance and country of origin (Diamond Source Initiative). De Beers, again, has just authorized its sightholders to refer to its goods as “DTC Diamonds” and will soon be launching a website,DTC.com, which will provide information about its mines and the provenance of its diamonds.

In the cosmetics industry, obviously, this makes perfect sense. It is important to know what we are putting on our faces and our bodies. For our health and our well-being. The impact on the planet is also important. Wondering about how the way we consume affects the Earth has become a modus operandi that concerns more and more people, at least in our privileged countries. Moreover, it is one of the selling points of synthetic diamond jewelers… As for the children of today, these societal and health issues are now part of their education. Although, at times, they are merely mentioned, they are mentioned all the same. We, as adults, are always more concerned whereas, when we were children, these issues were not addressed. Imagine then, what these children of today will demand as a degree of information and guarantee when they themselves are adults.

The article to which I am referring, and which was about applications deciphering the ingredients in cosmetics labeling, reminds us that this all began with questions about what we put on our plate or in our shopping cart (so, a very self-centered preoccupation). But the applications (Yuka, QuelCosmetic, Clean Beauty) have surfed on this “safe” wave to succeed. In truth, the information they publish about the ingredients in cosmetics is not robust. The methods of identifying ingredients and the classification itself, in short, their criteria of choice, are thus questionable or open to interpretation. Here, the precautionary principle is indeed that which takes precedence and certain ingredients are automatically excluded, even if their harmfulness is not proven. So yes, these traceability applications are open to improvement and this is no secret. Nevertheless, they find their audience while being imperfect because they respond to a demand.

A demand that we too know, in the diamond industry.

Allow me a small digression to offer an example. I visited the website of a jeweler (a start-up) which claims to be green and ethical. And which was selling “ethical diamonds”. Obviously, that is what intrigued me. What about these “ethical diamonds”? In fact, the website gives information about the KP, explains its limits (the definition of conflict diamonds), details the 4C, talks about reinforcing the human rights and the local economy of producing countries and stipulates environmental respect and working only with partner mines in Canada, Botswana and South Africa. On this website, therefore, there is no real guarantee or proof; however, the brand states its ethical, green, safe passport loudly and clearly. And, in my opinion, this stage is already a first step …

In the end, we’re in the same position as with our applications mentioned above. It is not perfect, the proof is debatable or absent or open to improvement. But never mind, the discourse does the job and responds to the consumer demand.

Who can sell today without establishing their ethical credentials and justifying their sources?

Everyone is aware then, that shedding light on the origins of a diamond, on the information that gives it its identity, is a selling point. But in truth it is much more. It is a necessity these days! Just like the ethical discourse and the proof of traceability, even if the tools at our disposal are open to improvement.

Source Rubel & Ménasché
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