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Country of Origin

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kaigun02

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jul 25, 2009
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26
Hi Folks,

I''ve read some older threads regarding diamonds'' origins and realize that topic hits a chord with some people; I''m not interested in the politics so much as the process of tracing a diamond''s origin. Assuming the diamond was shipped rough following the implementation of the Kimberly Process, it stands to reason that a cutter would know the origin of every diamond he receives, as that''s a required item on the certificate accompanying each shipment. I realize there''s a certain level of trust that goes on within the industry, but for a less trusting consumer, how hard is it for a retailer to trace a diamond back to the cutter and find out where a particular cut stone originally came from? Or do the cutters normally even keep track of which cut stone came from which rough stone? I''d think it would be advantageous for those wanting to combat the "Canadian Diamond craze" to be able to prove to their customers that a particular stone was from any of the multitude of other Kimberly Process member countries by being able to state in exactly which of those countries the diamond was originally mined. Is that not possible or just not normally done for other reasons?

I''d love to hear from some of the industry insiders on this one.

Thanks,
J
 

John P

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
May 1, 2008
Messages
3,563
Date: 8/7/2009 4:45:48 AM
Author:kaigun02
Hi Folks,

I've read some older threads regarding diamonds' origins and realize that topic hits a chord with some people; I'm not interested in the politics so much as the process of tracing a diamond's origin. Assuming the diamond was shipped rough following the implementation of the Kimberly Process, it stands to reason that a cutter would know the origin of every diamond he receives, as that's a required item on the certificate accompanying each shipment. I realize there's a certain level of trust that goes on within the industry, but for a less trusting consumer, how hard is it for a retailer to trace a diamond back to the cutter and find out where a particular cut stone originally came from? Or do the cutters normally even keep track of which cut stone came from which rough stone?
Hi J,

Rough must be mined & exported though legitimate channels but, like a grocery store, a receipt (KPCS certificate) proves you purchased a can of soup from an authorized store...not off the street...but it doesn't identify the aisle or shelf from which that soup came in the market. It may help to describe the process. There are pipe mining operations and there are alluvial mining operations. Alluvial rough comes from a general region. A kimberlite pipe is more geography-specific but even then yield from a single sightholder with several operations is often combined and sorted at one location before export. Once the rough passes through KPCS and (in our case) the Belgian AML laws it becomes further sorted and parceled at trading houses, mixed again when sold or re-distributed and then re-sorted by cutting manufacturers yet again in the planning stage. After polishing the finished diamonds are distributed or sold to other trade entities, parent companies and suppliers. Those companies and suppliers are the source for many commercial retailers.


I'd think it would be advantageous for those wanting to combat the 'Canadian Diamond craze' to be able to prove to their customers that a particular stone was from any of the multitude of other Kimberly Process member countries by being able to state in exactly which of those countries the diamond was originally mined. Is that not possible or just not normally done for other reasons?
In common situations where mining house, manufacturer and chain of supply are complex it's not practical to expect a retailer to know specific origins. In certain cases it may be possible. Our company buys directly from mining houses and, since we know their operations, we have a logical idea of where rough at a given tender was sourced. I've seen my colleagues identify country of origin for crystals from their composition, look and feel. There are clues an experienced rough analyst can detect and it's fascinating to see - like wine tasting experts who ID region, label and year from tasting the vintage. An independent cutter who buys his rough may also be able to identify original geography if he has spent time studying the art of rough analysis. I believe there is a Canadian program where diamonds are tracked from the source.

In the big picture the Kimberly Process has dramatically reduced the scope of the issuesince the 1990s. Many estimates put rough touched by conflict at less than 1 percent today. But the global diamond industry is vast. Greed is not exclusive to Africa, and rogue elements trade rough of dubious origin where they can. Kimberly Process fraud was uncovered in several South American countries over the past few years. Venezuela was eventually expelled from KPCS participation. In the past few weeks the Human Rights Watch has been calling for Zimbabwe to be suspended (story).

Border controls are tighter in North America, especially post 9-11, but the simple fact is that possibility of corruption exists, even in Canada where “conflict-free” is the national marketing slogan (CDCC). The good news is that Kimberley and NGOs like Global Witness have estimated that 99.8% of the world’s diamonds are conflict free. Still, unless you walked the diamond yourself from mine to sorting to trading house to cutting factory to parcel buyer to retail outlet, nothing can be 100 percent certain.

Responsible manufacturers and retailers do their utmost to protect clients and themselves. We follow strict regulations in rough purchase and select our partners with great care. The leaders of primary trading houses are committed to the process of certification. Primary cutting, trading and selling entities (as well as countries like Belgium and the USA) insist on written conflict-free guarantees and certification from people committed to the process. We've joined hands and do everything in our power to guarantee our diamonds’ conflict-free provenance just as our conscientious peers do.

What can consumers do to avoid “conflict diamonds?” Neil Beaty penned a journal article with intelligent consumer options. I would add the suggestion to be proactive. As a shopper you can test a retailer’s awareness and commitment to the issue. These four questions are suggested by NGOs Amnesty International and Global Witness:

1. How can I be sure that none of your jewelry contains conflict diamonds?
2. Do you know where the diamonds you sell come from?
3. Can I see a copy of your company’s policy on conflict diamonds?
4. Can you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers stating that your diamonds are conflict-free?


Remember that "conflict-free" just scratches the surface of the issue though. The industry works hard to ensure conflict-free provenance for the end-user and for many consumers that is enough. The only drawback is that it overlooks the real issue which is those who still suffer where resources are rich and people are poor - not only over diamonds but rubies, oil, gold, coltan and, historically, rubber, cocoa, even coffee.

Here is a prior thread with more like the above and further discussion: https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/are-some-conflict-diamonds-ok.90077/
 

kaigun02

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jul 25, 2009
Messages
26
John,

Thanks for your very comprehensive response. I''m happy to know that the vendor who couldn''t tell me where a stone came from was likely telling the truth and not just too lazy or apathetic to research the answer.

-J
 
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