Ever since the industry divided over Marange’s readmittance to the Kimberley Process in 2010 and 2011—and has stayed split since then—it’s become standard to take shots at the World Diamond Council.
Under past leadership, some U.S. groups seriously considered leaving the group. Tiffany resigned over policy disagreements (quietly), as did Martin Rapaport (less so).
When the organization was overhauled, the new revolving management structure was meant to be more representative and inclusive. And yet, this week, eight industry groups sat out the annual meeting in Antwerp over complaints that the organization had switched direction without consulting them.
Part of the problem here is the new bylaws, which require members pay at least $10,000 dues. (This was necessary; it was going broke.) Not every industry entity has that kind of money, so to shore up its finances, the miners urged big clients to join, including some that had never previously showed much interest in conflict diamonds or industry politics in general. And they all get one vote, the same as all the groups that speak for thousands.
Sometimes, industry press releases require a decoder ring. The WFDB statement announcing the sit-out says the eight boycotting groups represent “98 percent of the industry.” You may wonder how that number was calculated. I am told that when you add the members of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, and CIBJO, you get 98 percent of the diamond industry. You can argue that with that math—Does it count informal miners? Retailers? Members of more than one group? — but the WFDB and GJEPC undoubtedly represent huge memberships, and their leaders resent having the same say as some sightholder whose sole qualification is forking over 10,000 bucks.