The decision by eight important industry groups to boycott the upcoming World Diamond Council meeting in Antwerp is a huge black eye to the industry — and if there isn’t a serious attempt to ratchet tensions downward, it will have negative, far-reaching repercussions. The World Diamond Council is one of the most important groups in the industry — maybe even the most important—but it may find it difficult to represent the industry after a fiasco like this.
Since the World Federation of Diamond Bourses announced the boycott Monday, the 27 October — you can see its maddeningly unspecific release here — a lot of people have asked me what’s really behind this. The WFDB release cited the leadership’s decision to authorize Antwerp consultants Gemdax to conduct a survey of WDC members on the “various ethical, legal, and financial challenges facing the Kimberley Process.”
“A series of risk factors and impacts have—and are—affecting the whole pipeline,” said board member Stephane Fischler in an email to the WDC board. “The aim of the two-part survey is nothing more than looking for areas of risks and the various approaches to counter them.”
So on one level, this argument is about—well, a survey. That’s not much. (Though for some reason, nothing scares certain industry members more than surveys and studies.) But tension has been brewing on the board for some time over what the dissidents see as heavy-handedness from the current “reform” leadership. I could report all the different fights and slights, but I’ll spare you, for your sanity as well as mine. Suffice it to say, some board members viewed the decision to do this poll — which they complained was presented to them as a fait accompli, minus their input — as the last straw. And they feared that, since the WDC now collects dues from members, the balance in the group has now tilted inexorably toward the bigger players, who tend to favor reforms.