Is the time finally right for a diamond chain of custody?
Andrew Bone, the executive director of Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), took some time to speak with me following his presentation at the World Diamond Council’s annual meeting earlier this month. Highlights of our conversation follow.
JCK: A while ago, there was a lot of talk of RJC developing a chain of custody. It never happened. Do you see that happening now?
Andrew Bone: Why not? [The plan] hasn’t been taken away; it’s just been put in abeyance. I think there is a movement toward it. I think when the discussion about the chain of custody was done a few years ago it wasn’t a case of, we don’t want one, full stop. It was a case of: We are not sure about this particular model, and we are not sure about the timing. I think there is going to be an opportunity in the near future to revisit that and tie all these things together. There are separate initiatives [throughout the industry] toward essentially what we were aiming for in the first place with the chain of custody.
A few years back many were resistant to the concept. Do you think the industry is more ready now?
Yes. I think it is a question of timing. A few years ago, people weren’t ready for it. There were those doubts: Do we need this kind of thing? As I mentioned in my presentation, we have moved beyond just conflict diamonds as the big risk for the industry. That is still there as one of our risks, but there are others we need to address. We need to address the culture of the consumer. It came up several times [at the meeting] about the millennials. This is a generation that is going to be putting the industry under more scrutiny. Unless we as an industry get our message across and engage with that generation, they are going to get all of their information from Google. And we know where that can lead to.
When the chain of custody was proposed, there was talk of a size cutoff. Could that happen?
That would be for debate. Things change, and technology changes. Who knows what will be there to help us in the future? That’s a detail. What we need to do first is sell the concept and get people to agree on a concept. And once we have gotten over that particular hurdle, we can move further. I don’t think anyone should be bounced into this. There has to be consensus across the industry. I think there is a case there, but I think the case has to be made that everyone sees this to their benefit.