“We want to change the narrative surrounding the diamond industry,” says Diamond Empowerment Fund executive director Nancy Orem Lyman. “People need to know about the good that diamonds do, and that miners, manufacturers and jewelers are contributing to uplift those less fortunate.” As industry journalist and analyst Avi Krawitz details in his recent article, "Diamonds Do Good: Sharing the Wealth", from the Diamond Empowerment Fund to the Diamond Development Initiative, Responsible Jewellery Council, Kimberley Process, World Diamond Council and a host of initiatives from private companies, the diamond industry makes a tremendous positive impact on the communities it involves, and yet public perception of the industry is overwhelmingly negative. “We just need to find a way to get this information out to consumers,” says Ernie Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB).
Krawitz begins by highlighting a project that escapes the public eye outside of its immediate environment; the Kiran Hospital in Surat, India. Surat’s diamond manufacturing sector funded it, contributing most of the $75 million it took to build and set up the facility that provides healthcare treatment to thousands that previously had no access. “This really is a testament to the heart of the Surat diamond community,” one foreign executive considering a donation tells him. “I don’t think the diamond industry markets its good deeds enough.” A quick primer on the benefits of the diamond industry, from healthcare to infrastructure and eduction, is available at the diamondfact.org website, but the real message is the failure to promote the message - and this must change; not just to show that the industry is, "doing the right thing; they’re good for business as well, since their customers are demanding it", says Krawitz. "In fact," he adds, "representatives from miner De Beers and retailer Signet Jewelers pointed to consumer interest as one of the reasons for their corporate social responsibility programs."
Stéphane Fischler, acting president of the World Diamond Council (WDC) and president of the AWDC, said at the Dubai Diamond Conference that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) is still “the best story we have today” to validate the industry’s commitment to integrity. He said the industry has come a long way since the 2003 establishment of the KP, which verifies that a country’s rough-diamond production is conflict-free. However, he went on, many outsiders are still skeptical about the industry’s efforts to increase transparency and meet the ethical standards consumers are seeking. As he told The Diamond Loupe in an interview last week, "The WDC actively supports responsible, ethical behavior that upholds human rights throughout the entire diamond supply chain. For five years now, the WDC has expressed support for broadening the scope of the KP to increase the likelihood of safe and secure working conditions, fair labor practices and sustainable development in diamond communities. That is still our position today." At the KP Plenary in Australia, he said that the WDC, "in order to incorporate more assurances related to impact on human security and successful long term development, created our System of Warranties. A chain of assurances from mine to consumer. We must ensure that all industry participants including the thousands of small and medium companies all around the globe, can and will commit to this very important effort."
It is all about sustained commitment to best practices and CSR throughout the diamond industry, and, of course, spreading the word that diamonds do good.