In 2009, the leading diamond producers convened in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the behest of the then-president of Alrosa, to discuss a joint promotional effort called the International Diamond Board.
The talks got as far as looking for a CEO.
But soon the head of Alrosa left; his replacement quickly put the brakes on the project, saying he wanted to know more before making a commitment. The next summer, representatives of the Russian diamond producer all but declared the idea dead.
With new leadership at Alrosa, it appears the company has had a change of heart. Last month an assortment of diamond producers—both large and small—met to discuss a possible new group.
But this new diamond producers association—if it does come to be—does not seem to have the same mandate as the old one. The first explicitly discussed taking up De Beers’ old mantle of “creat[ing] and sustain[ing] strong consumer demand for diamonds worldwide through effective category marketing.”
The International Diamond Board “was looking to be a replacement for De Beers’ advertising,” says one source. “Most producers believe that time has moved on since then.” (It’s also striking that the miners all mentioned legal compliance in their public statements.)
Now, subjects on the table include collaborating on and sharing market research, consumer confidence issues, “diamonds for good,” as well as synthetics. It appears the group may end up being about issues and communications as much as straightforward marketing, though that may also be part of the mix. (Bloomberg, which broke the story, also mentioned “best practices for health and safety, environmental management and supply-chain integrity,” and producing an annual report a la De Beers’ Diamond Insight report.)
Which makes sense: Marketing is expensive. Bloomberg pegs the group’s budget as $6 million, which won’t finance a serious effort. The model seems to be other commodities groups, like the World Gold Council and Platinum Guild Intl., which do limited but generally useful promotion. In any case, a group that might examine the thorny issues in our industry, and possibly respond to false perceptions, is very much needed. It’s been for years.