“With the DDI, we can build a responsible diamond industry!” – Élodie Daguzan, Rubel & Ménasché, Goodwill Ambassador for the DDI

Marianne Riou

The Annual General Meeting of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) was held in Ottawa on 27 and 28 April. Élodie Daguzan, the new Goodwill Ambassador for the DDI and Head of Communication at the Parisian diamond company Rubel & Ménasché, had the pleasure of attending this AGM. The goal was to gain an even greater understanding of the DDI’s work, involvement and commitments on the ground, so as to better convey its message throughout the industry.

Founded in 2005, the Diamond Development Initiative is an association that is working to transform the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) sector. ASM represents 20% of the gem-quality diamonds produced in the world. The DDI’s aim is twofold: to identify, help and protect the artisanal miners (and their families) who carry out their work in very difficult conditions; and also to ensure that this sector is recognized, organized, formalized, and that it becomes an ethical and sustainable source in terms of the diamond supply chain. The DDI’s programs on the ground are greatly focused on Sierra Leone and the DRC, but the requirements are enormous. In particular, the DDI works in close collaboration with the KP; it has thus been responsible for providing technical assistance for the Kimberley Process since 2014.

In mid-April, the DDI appeared in the spotlight thanks to its joint project with De Beers: GemFair. The goal of the GemFair pilot project is the implementation of a dedicated technology that can record the ASM sites certified according to the Maendeleo Diamond Standards (the DDI’s standards). Through the use of this technology, we would thus be able to commercialize and track, with peace of mind and full transparency, a diamond produced by ASM, from the retailer that sells it all the way back to its artisanal mining origin. This project is in line with the diamond industry’s principles and requirements for innovation as well as its current needs, both in terms of CSR and sustainable development…

With no further preamble, we look back with Élodie Daguzan at last week’s AGM and at her involvement within Rubel & Ménasché to promote the DDI’s actions.

Élodie Daguzan, why was it important for you and Rubel & Ménasché to accept this post as the first Goodwill Ambassador for the DDI?

It is the will of our house to collaborate more with the DDI.

It needs to be recognized that, even if I am sensitive to this subject and Rubel & Ménasché has been supporting the DDI since 2012, we work in opposite directions to the artisanal mining sector. Rubel & Ménasché’s immediate working environment, in Paris, consists of the major high jewelry houses. But these latter are very sensitive to reputational risk. Acting on ASM to limit this risk, this weakened part of the pipeline, is, certainly, our responsibility; yet it is also necessary for all the stakeholders.

It is also important to us to create a link, to act as a bridge, a facilitator between these two totally opposing parts of the chain: ASM on the one hand, the famous jewelers on the other. Moreover, the latter ensure that they have the means to be aware of the issues of the diamond industry, so ASM should be a focus of their interest.

I would add that this profession is a passion for me and that I am committed to protecting it and to serving my industry. By having an impact, as small as it may be, on the stability of the diamond industry’s commercial environment, I am also better serving my company.

Finally, Rubel & Ménasché has decided to provide a window onto the diamond industry, and to go beyond client service and advice by contributing to a greater understanding of the industry (the information website has existed since 2012, Ed.). A better understanding of ASM is part of this approach.

How do you intend to carry out this mission for the DDI?

Given my experience, I obviously have certain knowledge of the codes of my sector and I understand the world of high jewelry. We will therefore be able to inform our jeweler partners about ASM by relying on the board of the DDI.

During the AGM of the DDI a week ago, I met passionate people from various backgrounds: diamond industry veterans, a marketing expert, former members of the Canadian government, researchers and teachers. Thanks to them, I was able to understand the different challenges and issues caused, for example, by the political climate of each country concerned (the stability or instability of the local governments is very important) in terms of the work of the DDI, human rights understanding, the sourcing of minerals in areas at high risk of conflict, etc.

With this knowledge, Rubel & Ménasché is going to be able to “spread the word” — with fair, honest and true words. I want to find a way of making the ASM problem and the urgency to act instantly comprehensible. The gains will be reciprocal for the DDI and ASM on the one hand and the renowned jewelers on the other.

At a personal level, I would go further. It seems to me that our industry has reached a critical stage, in a positive sense. It is calling itself into question, it is ready to collaborate, and the different stakeholders are listening to each other and have understood that they should work together hand in hand. Sustainable development begins with the longevity of companies and of this industry, which provides for millions of people. Today, ASM is an issue of collective responsibility for us.

So you just attended the AGM of the DDI. Among the latter’s actions, what do you hold most dear or what has most impressed you?

I have just measured the extent to which the DDI’s work is gigantic on the ground just from a geographic point of view (read Edahn Golan’s article from March 2018: DRC: 3% of artisanal diamond diggers are women N.D.L.R.)! The distances are such that identifying the diggers and successfully building a reliable database is already incredible and invaluable. It also seems so difficult to convince the local governments to take this sector into account…

It is important to focus on the GemFair project, which is particularly innovative. De Beers is taking a big gamble by attempting to include ASM in the industry, in partnership with the DDI, which masters this subject better than anyone.

I would add that I was impressed by the passion, knowledge and intelligence of Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director of the DDI.

And by Ian Smillie, its Chair, who shows real leadership and great willingness and honesty in his desire to improve the DDI’s work on the ground, by building on its failures. For Ian Smillie, the DDI’s mission is to build a model that is tangible and lasting and that can be reproduced on a large scale, so that people can duplicate it wherever it is necessary. A genuine tangible development tool!

Source Rubel & Ménasché