Speculation was already rampant about the potentially positive impact of having a First Lady and Daughter with their own retail brands; that impact has arrived in the first month, but whether or not it is positive is another question.
Award-winning journalist Rob Bates raises some highly relevant issues in the wake of the announcement by Ashley Orbach - U.S. Department of State’s special advisor for conflict diamonds for the last three years - that she will be leaving the agency and her role as advisor. There was always going to be a sense of uncertainty concerning the U.S. stance toward the Kimberley Process and human rights in the mining industry under the unpredictable new administration, and the loss of continuity signalled by Orbach's departure may well add to it.
Mbada Diamonds could have denied Zimbabwe of millions of dollars in revenue by under-declaring its diamond sales over the years after it emerged that its average price per carat was about three times lower than that of other firms extracting gems from Chiadzwa, writes The Herald.
In his latest Diamond Intelligence Briefs, “Keeping Stock of U.S. Kimberley Process Certificates”, industry analyst Chaim Even-Zohar takes another hard look at the U.S. rough diamond trade and the country’s half-hearted approach when it comes to implementing Kimberley Process (KP) certification standards domestically.
"As a leading member of the U.S. Jewelry industry, we are writing to express our support for Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the corresponding Securities and Exchange Commission’s Conflict Minerals Rule.
Chinese shoppers are generally estimated to make approximately 30% of the world’s luxury purchases, and according to De Beers "Diamond Insight Report", Mainland Chinese demand for diamond jewelry doubled from a 7% global share in 2008 to 14% in 2015, making it the second largest consumer of diamond jewelry. Bain & Company estimated their share of the global luxury market decreased by one percentage point in 2016, due mainly to China’s economic growth slowdown, thriving deman
Reflecting on the impact of the Trump election victory on the future of the diamond trade, particularly on the U.S. and India, independent industry consultant Pranay Narvekar writes in GJEPC's Solitaire International that America's share of the global polished diamond market - already the highest by far at 45% of total value - should only increase in the coming years, while the strength of the dollar and other expected policy moves will only exacerbate uncertainty throughout the trade.
The Belgian Parliament has officially adopted the 'Diamond Regime', commonly known as the 'Carat Tax', as the new fiscal system for the Antwerp diamond industry. The new system stipulates that companies will no longer be taxed on the basis of their profit but on a fixed percentage of their turnover - thereby eliminating complicated discussions with tax authorities about the value of inventory, which is difficult to assess.
According to a report on the Israeli news site Hamodia, the country's tax authorities, following Israels commitments to the US and international organizations to apply a more stringent anti-money laundering policy, are targeting the Israeli diamond industry, generally considered the biggest offenders in this domain. Officials said that as of January 1st, the administration will go after tax fraud more agressively, implementing extended powers of investigation and enforcement.
The 2016 KP Plenary kicked off yesterday in Dubai as KP Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem welcomed representatives of 81 governments and industry organizations. First day activities included a third diamond valution forum addressing the elusive question of how to provide fair value for diamonds from Africa and achieve a formalized approach to valuing diamond resources.
Earlier this week, Kimberley Process (KP) chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem issued a press release extending an, "Invitation to Civil Society to Attend [KP] Plenary", [civil society = NGOs] and also shared with the CSC a document providing an in-depth response addressing previous issues and concerns raised by the CSC at the beginning of the UAE KP Chairmanship ("Proposal for a Remediation Between the 2016 KP Chair and the Members of the Civil Society Coalition").
Thirteen years after the the United States government initially banned the import of all gemstones from Burma (Myanmar) to put pressure on the military junta that had ignored democratic elections, placed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, and persecuted minority groups throughout the country, U.S. sanctions on imports of the Burmese gemstones were officially lifted by an executive order on October 7.
Last Friday, September 30, the second of three rough diamond valuation forums initiated by the current Kimberley Process (KP) Chair, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, was held in Antwerp.
Martin Rapaport has released a statement claiming that due to the EU not being a major diamond consumer in recent years, with demand expected to fall even further as a result of potential currency and equity downturns in the EU and Great Britain, the impact of the Brexit will be that, "Global investment demand for higher quality diamonds as a store of value will increase due to global economic and political uncertainty." He does not anticipate that Chinese or Indian diamond demand will be impacted in a negative way. Furthermore, "The important U.S.
On Tuesday 14 June and Wednesday 15 June, members of the Antwerp Diamond Industry elected the new Board Members for the AWDC Board of Directors representing the trade. In 2012, the by-laws of the AWDC extended the duration of the mandates to four instead of two years and implemented an alternating rotation system that will renew half of the board every to years, which ensures continuation in the Board of Directors over the years. .
Award-winning news director of JCK Rob Bates, in his opinion piece "Why the NGOs and Dubai Still Can’t Get Along", addresses the persistent conflict between Kimberley Process (KP) chair UAE and the KP civil society coalition - the group of 11 human rights groups that participate in the KP - that is threatening to turn the upcoming KP interessional meetings into a failure: "the recent turn of events looks like we are in for another year of stagnation and animosity, and the scheme will once again fail to make needed improvements, despite the UAE’s promises last year of a fruitful, pr
India’s Ministry of Finance has formed a sub-committee to, "look into issues related to the Imposition of Central Excise duty on jewellery", which is the 1 percent excise duty recently imposed on the jewelry industry.
AllAfrica reports the recently formed Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is set to improve revenue inflows into the cash-strapped government's coffers, according to Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa. ZCDC took over operations in Marange diamond fields recently after government cancelled the permits of mining firms that were mining in the area, citing lack of transparency and investment. Chidhakwa told reporters recently that ZCDC would not wait for six months or a year to declare dividends to governments but would ensure funds were transferred to the treasury every month.
To raise public awareness on the Marcos' two-decades of plunder during martial law from 1965 to 1986, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on March 16 launched an online exhibit of selected pieces from the Hawaii jewelry collection, one of the three massive jewelry collections hoarded by Marcoses. This collection was seized by the US Bureau of Customs upon the Marcoses’ arrival in Hawaii in 1986 and is currently stored at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Brussels on March 30 to attend the first India-European Union summit in four years. Hopes are high that the first visit of an Indian prime minister to Brussels in six years will reinvigorate EU-India ties and inject new momentum into the relationship, possibly resuming dialogue for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which hasn't materialized despite eight years of negotiations.
Press Release: In his 92nd-birthday interview on 3 March President Mugabe stated that the diamond sector had made $15 billion but the country had only received $2 billion from it and suggested various options for reforms. This came after the Zimbabwe Mining Minister announced on the 22 February that all diamond companies must cease operations with immediate effect after months of wrangling over the government’s proposal to merge all of the companies into one amalgamated entity. "It’s been clear for many years that Zimbabwe’s diamond industry needs to be radically reformed.
Pending a positive recommendation by the Kimberley Process (KP) monitoring team - consisting of representatives of the various KP working groups and civil society - after consideration of the results of their review visit to the Central African Republic (CAR), the resumption of rough diamond exports from CAR is looking increasingly possible.
Saying that existing miners had robbed the country of its wealth, President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe on Thursday said that his government would take possession of all diamond operations. “The state will now own all the diamonds in the country,” Mugabe said during a two-hour interview with state broadcaster ZBC TV. “Companies that have been mining diamonds have robbed us of our wealth.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travelling there. The UAE also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and reduced its diplomatic presence in Beirut. Bahrain also urged citizens against travelling to Lebanon, and called on Bahrainis there already to leave quickly, according to a statement posted to state news. The move on Tuesday came after Riyadh halted $4bn in aid to Lebanese security forces in response to "hostile" positions linked to Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.
The Southern Times (Southern Africa) reports that the partnership between the Botswana government and diamond giant De Beers faces an uncertain future with opposition parties in the country making repeated calls that it should be terminated. Leaders of main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) say there is need to reconsider the relationship between the Southern African country and De Beers.
The National reports that UAE is ready to back a bid by Venezuela to return to the international diamond trading community, said Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, after a series of meetings in the country. Mr bin Sulayem is the new chairman of the Kimberley Process (KP), the regulatory regime for the global diamond trade. Venezuela, rich in the gems but facing a financial meltdown as a result of low oil prices, wants to resume diamond trading after a seven-year halt.
Reuters reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be looking to sell some of the country's largest companies, including the world's largest diamond miner, ALROSA. Russian oligarchs are the most likely potential buyers of the stakes, but in contrast to Putin's 2014 insistance that public offerings of Russian state companies be done on the Moscow Exchange - ruling out more liquid, deeper markets in Hong Kong, London, and New York, limiting access to Western investors - the Kremlin said that foreign investors were welcome to participate in the privatization, which has been dri
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) will hold its 37th World Diamond Congress in Dubai from May 16 to 19, and has identified transparency, responsibility and sustainability as the key themes of the meeting.
Pope Francis - in a speech on 26 November in Nairobi, Kenya to the regional UN headquarters during his first official trip to Africa - said that illegal trade in diamonds and other precious stones and metals, as well as the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks, “fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism.” He said that, “This situation is a cry rising up from humanity and the Earth itself, one which needs to be heard by the international community.” He also stated that, “We cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in
Yesterday, the Civil Society Coalition announced at the KP Plenary meeting in Angola that it will boycott the KP next year in protest at the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) 2016 chairmanship due to, "widespread concerns over UAE's lenient standards and antagonistic relationship with the Coalition." Partnership Africa Canada 's (PAC) Director of Research, Alan Martin, said: "We have been calling on Dubai to change its harmful diamond trading practices.
Shmuel Schnitzer, the President of the Israel Diamond Exchange for the past two years, and who previously served as president from 1998 to 2004, will not be a candidate for the December elections for President of the exchange, according to a spokesperson for the bourse. The election will be contested by Yoram Dvash, owner of Yoram Dvash Diamonds, and Arnon Yuval, a partner at S. Yuval & Co. Both currently serve on the IDE’s executive committee.
Last summer, Ozy published a story on efforts to revitalize and legitimize the mining and polishing of gemstones in Afghanistan, a trade which, if successful, could contribute to its wrecked economy. Afghan emeralds are considered among the finest in the world by some international experts, but while the country therefore has potential to grow within the colored gemstone market, it is difficult to mine and process the stones given the precarious political situation in this stil
Bollywood stars and businessmen are coming together to start legal proceedings in London’s High Court for the return of the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, which they say was stolen from its true home. The move could result in some awkward moments at a lunch the Queen is hosting for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Buckingham Palace this week, although a Royal source said the row was strictly off the agenda, according to the Daily Mail.
Back on May 20, the European parliament issued a surprising vote in favor of enforcing an obligatory monitoring system for the whole supply chain of conflict minerals, affecting 800,000 European companies. The measure entails that European gold, tantalum (the material that makes mobile phones vibrate), tungsten and tin imports from conflict zones will be subjected to tougher surveillance procedures.
Last Monday, the Zimbabwean government and the European Union signed a €89 million package of agreements for health, agriculture and institution building in the country). At the signing ceremony, Head of EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme, said EU member states are engaging with Zimbabwe not only in through aid but also increasingly through trade and investment.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to restart the country's stagnating economy but analysts say the plans need fleshing out. Abe said that Japan, the world's third-largest diamond consumer and economy, needs a strong economy, child-care support and social security to combat the demographic problems facing Japan due to the aging and shrinking of its 127-million population.
According to Afropages.fr, the Angolan government is determined to crack down on foreigners who are said to illegally mine diamonds in the regions of Seteca, Catacala, Nhaera and Soma Kwanza. Government sources say the illegal diamond diggers come predominantly from Congo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Soudan and Mauritania and are also said to be involved in drug trafficking, people-trafficking and money-laundering.
Growing joblessness and the slowdown in the diamond and ceramic sectors is fuelling unrest in the Patel community. Patels dominate the diamond and ceramic industry. About 40% of small and medium enterprises in Gujarat are controlled by Patels, who constitute around 15% of the state's population. It is no coincidence that the biggest Patidar (Patel) rallies over last two months and most violent protests last week took place in diamond hubs of Surat, Bapunagar in Ahmedabad and Amreli. About 450 small diamond units, mainly doing job-work for medium and big diamond companies, have shut down.
Angola is an example of leadership in diamond mining activity, says the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Steven Feldstein, who cites the country's example in safe extraction processes.
Based upon progress made to date by the Central African Republic, KP Participants and Observers reached an understanding that the CAR may commence exports of rough diamonds upon full implementation of an “Operational Framework” and pending completion of the KP Review Mission report. The announcement states that, "The 'Administrative Decision on the Central African Republic [Temporary Suspension]' of May 23, 2013 is amended to allow for resumption of trade in rough diamonds from 'compliant zones' that are to be established under conditions set forth by this AD."
While there is a consensus that Zimbabwe is now a failed state, the government of Zimbabwe rejects that assertion arguing that it’s made by agents of regime change. But not much has been suggested as the way out... Many writers are also very frustrated that there has not been a violent uprising in Zimbabwe but don’t say who should face the riot police on their behalf after nearly all protests have been violently crushed. This opinion piece argues that a UN Transitional Government for Zimbabwe could be a viable option to a violent uprising. Using two case studies of Cambodia and Namibia the author argues that all that it takes is for Zimbabwe to eat humble pie and be saved from catastrophe.
According to The East African, the Democratic Republic of Congo is relaxing rules for foreigners seeking to invest in key sectors such as agriculture and energy. The incentives include a payment of $10,000 for the acquisition of a foreign investor investment certificate and a fee of $120 for the registration of a company. Dealers in minerals such as gold and diamonds are required to pay $5,000 and $200,000 respectively for a licence.
In an opinion piece, human rights activist and Director of the Centre for Resource Governance Farai Maguwu warns Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who recently visited China and plans to visit Europe shortly, seeking foreign investment and development assistance funds. Maguwu claims Mnagagwa, who is named as potential successor of current Zimbabwe President Mugabe, was highly involved in the entry of Anjin Investment in the Marange diamond fields, a deal that turned out to be highly disadvantageous for the country, Maguwu says.
On 14 July 2015, ALROSA’s Supervisory Board held its first meeting following the elections at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 25 June 2015. After a vote, Anton Siluanov, Finance Minister of the Russian Federation, was elected as the Chairman of ALROSA’s Supervisory Board. Yegor Borisov, Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), was elected as the First Vice Chairman and Alexander Galushka, Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East, became the Vice Chairman. The Board also elected members of its Committees (Strategic Planning, Audit & HR and Remunerations).
According to The Times of India, members of the diamond trade are sailing in a ship without a captain, at a time when the industry is facing a severe financial crunch. The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), an apex body of the Indian gems and jewellery sector, is without a governing body as the term of present Committee of Administration (CoA) expired on May 31 and the body is awaiting the election dates from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Currently, there are no board of directors to take decision on behalf of the gems and jewellery traders.
Australia has officially withdrawn its bid to be the KP Vice Chair to Angola, leaving the door open for United Arab Emirates to become Vice Chair. Australia and UAE signed a bilateral agreement stipulating certain commitments made by UAE with regard to the KP. Foremost among them is that UAE will host a KP review visit commencing 27 September 2015.
Zimbabwe is considering submitting a bid for the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme which is currently held by Angola. Mines and Minerals Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said the issue of submitting a bid is being carefully considered. He said Zimbabwe is a proud member of the KPCS and has contributed immensely to the defence of the diamond body. "It is not out of line for us to submit a bid.
Zimbabwe Situation reports the United States yesterday said it continues to believe its relations with Zimbabwe have a bright future despite some differences between the two countries.
In his latest blog, Rob Bates takes stock of who will be the next KP Chair. The United Arab Emirate's bid was and is much contested by NGO's, Bates says, but it appears Dubai will assume the chairmanship next year - if Dubai agrees to certain conditions - after Australia backed out at the recent KP Intersessional in Luanda, Angola.
Angola, 2015 host of the Kimberley Process, is a country of extreme wealth, thanks to oil and diamonds. Yet it has the highest child-mortality rate in the world. Rampant corruption, an apparent lack of interest in health care and little call for accountability from countries with oil interests there largely account for this contradiction. Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times, went to Angola to see for himself, and he recently returned with stunning video (in link).
Speaking to the press on 29 June, chairman of the Kimberley Process Bernardo Campos said it came as a big surprise to the delegates that Australia reported to the plenary its willingness to withdraw its candidacy for Vice-Chair. Bernado Campos added that this was a significant result that will be announced officially soon. After Australia's decision, the United Arab Emirates will be officially announced as the only candidate for Vice-Chair of the KP. The official announcement is still pending. The country elected Vice-Chair will assume the Chairmanship in 2016.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has developed a work plan to resume rough diamond exports from the Central African Republic (CAR), which would partially end the sanctions of the country’s diamond production. Bernado Campos, Angola’s chairman of the KP, explained that KP participants and observers reached an understanding that CAR may commence exporting rough diamonds upon full implementation of a proposed operational framework and pending completion of a proposed KP review mission to the country.
The Carter Center has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to reveal the terms under which state firm Gecamines sold the potentially rich Kawama concession to Mutanda Mining, owned by Swiss commodities giant Glencore and Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler's Fleurettee Group. Under Congolese law, the government is required to publish any transfer of state resources within two months, but the February sale of the Kawama concession only came to light through Bloomberg's (Washington Post) report. The IMF in 2012 suspended a line of credit to the DRC after failing to obtain sufficient informa
The Central African Republic (CAR) says it will engage the African Union chair President Robert Mugabe to seek solutions following strong objections to its Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) registration bid by civil society at the ongoing intercessional meeting in Luanda, Angola. Civil society says that diamond revenue can be used to finance civil conflict in CAR. Kazungui maintains that civil society is pushing a western agenda and wants to avoid greater African participation in formulating decisions that inform diamond trade.
The Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC) continues to grow its legislative influence on Capitol Hill, as the group led a delegation of jewelers to Washington, D.C. for the fifth consecutive year. The group capitalized on the opportunity to discuss a new sales tax fairness bill – the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) – that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 15. “Traditional jewelers are losing sales to online competitors because we are required to collect sales tax on purchases made in our stores.
Wholesalers at the Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA) seminar in NYC expected to learn whether Zimbabwe green diamonds with Kimberley Process (KP) certification are legal to trade. Instead, they learned that U.S. sanctions against the country made all diamonds from Zimbabwe off limits whether KP certified or not. In 2003, sanctions effectively stopped diamond trading between Zimbabwe, the EU and the US.
"In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds, and the fur of endangered species?”
JCK reports Pope Francis mentioned blood diamonds in a list of societal ills in his encyclical on climate change.
Rapaport reports the Antwerp World Diamond Centre organized a Carat Tax seminar, strictly limited to Antwerp registered diamond companies, no press allowed, last week. "Many things are still blurred, but the body of the law is globally defined", one of the attendees said. The new fiscal law, if approved by the European Commission, would tax diamond firms' turnover at 0.55% rather than taxing profit, creating a more level financial playing field against other trading centres.
According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the proposed EU legislation on conflict minerals tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold (3TG), will include the implementation of a so-called ‚white list’, naming smelters that do not use conflict minerals to produce their intermediate products sold in the EU. Whereas the US Dodd-Frank legislation focused on smelters and downstream companies, the latter generally far removed from upstream activities, the EU proposal shifts the focus on middlemen in the supply chain, believing this will add pressure to the upstream segments, the miners and traders.
President Barack Obama on Monday said he'd convinced European leaders to maintain economic sanctions on Russia, even as U.S. officials concede the measures have done little to curb aggression by separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The sanctions regime steadily imposed by Western nations will continue until a ceasefire that Russia agreed to in March goes into full effect, Obama said. Despite the continued violence, U.S. officials insist the sanctions are taking a toll on the Russian economy, where the Ruble has plummeted in value.