Is the industry at long last getting its act together and creating an effective organization that will promote the diamond sector and act as a unified body? The answer is perhaps, but it is a little hard to know given the “hush hush” nature of a meeting of eight of the major diamond producers held in London last week.
According to a Bloomberg report, representatives from De Beers, Alrosa, Rio Tinto, Petra, Gem Diamonds, Lucara, Dominion and Russian company OAO Lukoil (developer of the Vladimir Grib field) met to discuss a whole range of issues pertinent to the industry.
So far, the focus and aims of the as-yet-unnamed group are largely absent. Bloomberg reported that some of the topics under discussion at the meeting were diamond marketing, industry research and the threat to consumer confidence from undisclosed lab-grown entering the market – all important areas of concern that need talking about.
But why the mystery? I hope that the lack of information is nothing more than the early days of an organization trying to get itself off the ground and not the imprinted behavior of what Bloomberg calls “the famously secretive diamond industry.”
In an emailed statement to the news outlet, Rio Tinto said a meeting was held to “assess the need for a producer association similar to other commodity-based organizations…The idea of the body is to promote the interests of diamond producers and the diamond sector more generally. We will continue the discussions with industry participants.”
That the industry needs a producer association cannot be questioned. Since De Beers stepped away from its role as the generic marketer for the industry, diamond promotion on a major scale has been pretty much non-existent, leaving it far behind other jewelry sectors, which have organized and focus bodies speaking on their behalf (think, the World Gold Council, Platinum Guild International and the recently announced World Platinum Investment Council).
Before getting excited, remember that we have been here before. In 2009, some 40 diamond producers and industry players created the International Diamond Board (IDB). Spearheaded by Alrosa, the IDB was designed to continue global generic diamond promotion.
Writing about the group, Chaim Even-Zohar said at the time that, “sadly, this infant organization has become like a little baby that has spent the last half year trying to get her father to admit that he was present at her inception, and responsible for some of its financial needs. The ‘father,’ Moscow-based Alrosa, has never denied his role in IDB’s creation but has ignored all requests for ‘child support.’”
All too soon, the infant became an orphan and the IDB fizzled out without a whimper. When the late Fyodor Andreyev took over at the helm of Alrosa, reported Even-Zohar, he was not even aware of the existence of the IDB, so it’s hardly surprising that nothing came of this well-intentioned endeavor.
That these players are gathering again, six years later is at the same time both an opportunity to make good on their earlier enthusiasm and also a little disheartening that it is six years later and we are pretty much where we were more than half a decade ago.
So much has happened in the interim that it is certainly going to be a matter of playing a serious game of catch up to keep the industry relevant and front of mind for consumers, who have many more options for their money these days.
This is a story in development and one we look forward to following – hopefully with positive results.
Have a fabulous weekend.