Two diamond and jewelry industry initiatives made headlines a couple of weeks ago. One was the introduction of the Diamond Source Protocol; the other was a call for generic marketing. These two issues are intertwined. I’m not steadfastly against initiatives suggested by U.S. retail organizations, RJC or anyone else seeking to improve the ethical standards of polished diamonds, although some believe I am. Consumer-centric initiatives are important, as is the ethical behavior of the diamond industry at large.
When asking people involved in these initiatives if they believe consumers really think diamonds are mined or processed unethically, the same answer is usually given: “This is not in response to demand from consumers. We want to act before there is an outcry.”
Fair enough, but what are the issues that require new measures? We all know that the Kimberley Process is clunky and slow, but no one is saying that it is not living up to its remit of preventing the export of rough diamonds from rebel-held areas.
So what are the ethical issues that require preventative medicine? What crimes need to be unearthed and expunged? Certainly none have been mentioned. The only concern cited is possible U.S. government action against the diamond industry.
The calls for preventative measures angered attendees of the Mumbai World Diamond Conference last month because of what they imply – that members of the mid-section of the diamond pipeline – manufacturers and wholesalers – are unethical. That, of course, is preposterous and that is why they are so deeply offended.
In fact, the single issue at hand has to do with diamonds from Zimbabwe, although the bon ton today is to not mention Zimbabwe. Singling the country out failed when review missions found that the way diamonds are now mined in Zimbabwe meets the highest oversight standards around.
The initiators of the Protocol are concerned that unethical activities may hurt business. They have a good point that needs to be addressed, which is where the call for generic marketing comes in.
For example, after De Beers ended its diamond promotion campaign in Japan, diamond jewelry purchases started to decline there. We have also seen a slowdown in growth in the U.S. since the “A Diamond Is Forever” promotion was nixed.
Clearly something needs to be done, and the combination of the two problems – the perception of diamonds and their promotion – is called for. The industry needs a game plan, a blueprint for promoting diamonds, while showing the great benefits diamonds bring to some of the poorest regions in the world.
When buying diamond jewelry, consumers do much more then celebrate love and life’s special occasions. They provide education, food and medical care in Sierra Leone, infrastructure and anti-HIV programs in Botswana, skilled training and work in Canada’s remote Yellowknife region, they pay for water purification systems in Zimbabwe, they do good in many ways and in many places.
When a consumer buys diamonds, that person is saying “love” to a close one, and doing good far away. Here is a slogan for our campaign “Spread the Love.” Spread the love because it helps others, and if you use ‘Spread the Love,’ consumers will get the message – diamonds are ethical and do good. And when you do good, you are good. In the words of Paul McCartney, And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.
Spread the love.