Natural Diamond Vs Synthetic Diamond

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by Raul Sapora

From a scientific perspective, a synthetic diamond has the same chemical composition, the same crystal structure, the same optical and physical properties of a natural diamond. As synthetic diamonds are conceptually identical to natural diamonds, they need to be analyzed and spotted by a gemological laboratory. Synthetic diamond screening is nowadays a major concern of the Jewelry Industry.

Unexpectedly, as far as I am concerned, Ada Diamonds[i], a synthetic diamond distributor, after discovering a few natural diamonds mixed in a synthetic diamonds melee lot, has implemented enhanced screening procedures to further inspect all parcels of melee diamonds to ensure that all diamonds sold are in fact synthetic, not mined and therefore not illicit mined diamonds. Despite it is based on the same principle (synthetic vs natural diamond screening), a whole new and extremely dangerous variable has been imported into the Diamond Trade: protecting synthetic from natural. I believe most of you who read this will smile at this – I did too at a first glance – but it is also easy to realize that a new powerful weapon has been forged and consigned to marketing experts, and if the synthetic diamond industry will have consumers perceive that synthetic diamonds are a better alternative, people will buy them.

The situation is becoming more and more complex. Retailers are in a constant state of great distress: they are uncertain whether they should sell synthetic diamonds or not. On the other end, mining companies are addressing the problem with considerable delay and most probably caught inside the conceptual circle of the same marketing campaign which had decreed their triumph in the past. When Martin Rapaport in his world renowned educated reprimand[ii] to Leonardo di Caprio says that ‘false claims and misleading marketing surrounding the sale of synthetics is having an impact’, I am afraid he forgets to say that diamond itself owes its success to the unrivalled advertising slogan created by Mary Frances Gerety for De Beers in 1948 ‘a Diamond is Forever’, and that claim is disingenuous anyway. De Beers was successful in making diamonds appear rarer than they are, by aggressively restricting the supply of diamonds on the market, and moreover nothing is going to be forever, not even diamonds.

I am a gemologist and Responsible Sourcing Auditor, and those who know me quite well are prepared to hear me pronounce the sentence: “The ethical nature of a gemstone has today as much to do with its social context and its environmental provenance as it has with its optical and chemical properties.” In fact, in my opinion, gemology without Responsible Sourcing is merely a scientific understanding of gemstones, and the world needs much more than this. Gemology, as a matter of fact, is evolving through ethics. Therefore, as a gemologist I have to protect truth, even if truth sometimes can be multifaceted.

Diamond Foundry, a Synthetic Diamond producer who raised a capital of over $100 million from 12 billionaires[iii], including Twitter founder Evan Williams and actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, was launched in late 2015, after two years of research and development.” A diamond is a diamond,” says Martin Roscheisen, Diamond Foundry’s founder. “Scientifically it is a tetrahedral carbon allotrope, and it is the same thing whether mined or man-made.”

“Proud to invest in Diamond Foundry, a Company reducing human & environmental toll by sustainably culturing diamonds,” Leonardo di Caprio tweeted.

Apparently, the arguments embraced by synthetic (or lab grown as they like to say) diamonds manufacturers are mainly ethical: to some consumers they seem to be conflict free and socially responsible. That is because synthetic diamond marketers are touting their product to be “conflict-free”, which misleadingly associates all real diamonds with conflict diamonds.

Accusations of exploitation and inhumane working conditions in mines cast a dark shadow over the diamond industry. Mining is also said to be devastating to the environment, due to the amount of energy it requires, the potential for chemical leaks, and the harmful effects that removing large amounts of earth has on local ecosystems[iv]. Some of those arguments are highly deceptive: the world of diamonds, gemstones and jewellery is changing. The legislative landscape, consumer awareness of the problems in the jewellery supply chain and broader civil society groups demanding transparency and disclosure have impacted dramatically on this scenario: nowadays, thanks to Kimberley Process, Responsible Jewelry Council and other initiatives, just a very small fraction of diamonds production is being used to finance wars. Also, it is extremely important to understand that the diamond industry employs an estimated 10 million people around the world directly and indirectly, and also has become the almost entire economy of some specific, otherwise isolated locations, like Botswana and Northern Canada[v]. Another commonly repeated misconception is that diamond mining harms local ecosystems and wildlife. However, diamond mining is perhaps one of the least environmentally destructive forms of mining there is today. Diamond mining uses very few, if any, chemicals, and diamond mines leave a small footprint on local environments compared to other forms of mineral extraction. Most people are unaware of the role diamonds play in bringing real benefits to people in the countries around the world where diamonds are sourced. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.

A few facts:

·        An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.

·        Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.

·        An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.

·        The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual export earnings.

·        Approximately one million people are employed by the diamond industry in India.

·        The revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

·        An estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from African countries.

It is quite evident that synthetic diamonds pose a firm and serious threat to this huge network, while so much has been done and is being done to eradicate unethical implications from the complex jewelry world. As I said already, reactions have been slightly late and perhaps, at least in the early stage, not commensurate to the actual danger.

After almost one century and a half after diamond discovery in South Africa – happened in 1867, when fifteen year old Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs found the Eureka diamond on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Orange River – and after the end of the De Beers monopoly, seven of the world’s leading diamond companies (De Beers, Alrosa, Dominion Diamond Corporation, Petra Diamonds, Gem Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto Diamonds), founded in May 2015, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA): its mission is ‘to protect and promote the integrity and reputation of diamonds, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the diamond industry[vi].

DPA launched an advertising campaign called “Real is Rare,” that adopts a new verbiage on diamond marketing, in which the abracadabra claim “A Diamond is Forever” has been replaced by a narrative that is totally different from the past. The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) announced at the JCK, Las Vegas a few days ago that their 2017 marketing budget will total US$ 57 million. DPA’s Chairman Stephen Lussier commented: “The Board’s decision is a major turning point for the Diamond Producers Association and the diamond industry. All Board Members are aligned behind the goals and plans of the DPA, which is now fully equipped to fulfil its mission of communicating to next generation consumers about the timeless beauty and emotional value of diamonds. We look forward to working closely with the diamond and jewellery trade and with other industry organisations to build a stronger future for our sector” [vii].

The words pronounced from Lussier sound so far away from the place and time in which De Beers was the guardian of the trade and could steadily increase the price of diamonds, thus ensuring that diamonds were a good investment over time.

Is such a potentially huge advertising campaign enough to react to synthetic diamonds? In my opinion the necessary game changer in this dangerous situation are ethics and Responsible Sourcing practices. The only way is ethics, quoting Stacey Hailes’s speech at Birmingham a few weeks ago. It is of paramount importance for consumers to consider what the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, the Responsible Jewelry Council, the Signet Responsible Sourcing Program are among others doing. Although we are all working towards the full enforcement of these practices, they already had a significant impact on illicit trade in rough diamonds.

___________________________________________________________________

[i] As reported in ‘Is This Lab-Grown Diamond Company Trolling the Trade?’ by Rob Bates, on JCKonline (June 1, 2017)

[ii] Rapaport, ‘Synthetic Diamond Scam’ April 2016

[iii] ‘Why Leonardo DiCaprio is backing man-made diamonds’ by Sophie Morlin-Yron, CNN money ( August 30, 2016)

[iv] ‘A Lab-Grown Diamond Is Forever’, by Chavie Lieber (June 14, 2016)

[v] ‘The History of Lab Grown Diamonds: Value Proposition’, by Ehud Arye Laniado (June 14, 2017)

[vi] Diamond Producers Association mission statement (www.diamondproducers.com)

[vii] DPA ups its Marketing Budget for 2017 – Allocates US$ 57 Million for the Purpose, TJM (June 6, 2017)

 

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Zimbabwe diamonds flood Dubai

Source: the Standard

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Report by Financial Times

International sanctions have targeted President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle and the country’s economic pillars such as the diamond industry, revenues from which have allegedly been used to finance the ruling party and the security forces.

But the country has found a crucial route to global markets.

Over the past five years Dubai — known for its relentless pursuit of new markets and willingness to deal with all manner of regimes — has become a significant conduit for legal Zimbabwean exports of rough diamonds.

“Dubai was our saviour,” said Christopher Mutsvanga, chairman of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, which is under US sanctions.

According to the latest available figures, Dubai imported US$408 million worth of Zimbabwean diamonds in 2011, up from US$1,7 million in 2008.

While it is not illegal for Dubai to buy them, some gems from Marange fields — which account for the vast majority of Zimbabwean stones — are tantamount to “conflict diamonds”, human rights activists say.

With the diamond fields allegedly under the control of the military — which is loyal to Mugabe’s Zanu PF party — his opponents say profits are siphoned off to fund the security forces, which have been repeatedly accused of human rights abuses.

For his part, Obert Mpofu, Mines and Mining Development minister, says sanctions are “politically-motivated” and the measures of “former colonisers”.

Most rough stones that arrive in Dubai are re-exported for polishing, mainly to the manufacturing centre of India. Other destinations include Belgium, China and Thailand.

In 2011 the Kimberly Process, a co-operative system between 80 states to certify that diamonds are not contributing to conflict, approved Zimbabwean gems for sale.
One of its founders, Global Witness, which campaigns against the abuse of natural resources to fund repressive regimes, then withdrew from the process, saying it had become an accomplice to diamond laundering.

Global Witness say there is not enough oversight of the provenance of stones arriving in western markets.

The pressure group says Dubai has become a popular staging post for such “tainted goods,” allowing companies to avoid scrutiny in western markets by re-exporting gemstones via the Emirates.

“Dubai is crucial,” says Emily Armistead of Global Witness. “It is not covered by sanctions and so it’s an easy route for diamonds to pass through and avoid these restrictions.”

Global Witness says its investigations have revealed links between some joint-venture diamond mining companies and the military, police and intelligence organisations loyal to Mugabe.

“Global Witness’ investigations point to a serious risk that diamond revenues could be used to fund violence in this year’s election,” the advocacy group said this year.

Officials in Dubai say they did not import Zimbabwean gems when the Kimberly Process restricted Marange gem trade. They also deny claims made several years ago by its former chief executive that the Dubai bourse had turned a blind eye to “conflict diamonds”.

The trade with Zimbabwe comes as Dubai’s share of the global gem business has risen.

Larger volumes from bigger producers such as Russia, Botswana and Angola has pushed the value of the diamond trade in Dubai from negligible rates in 2005, when the emirate set up its diamond bourse, to US$39 billion in 2011.

The diamond bourse is located in Almas Tower, the region’s tallest commercial tower, part of the fast-growing Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), which boasts five new corporate registrations a day.

Mpofu says the government is setting up an office at the DMCC to boost exports further.

The DMCC plans more incentives to boost the trade in gems.

“Dubai has a clear African strategy,” says Peter Meeus, chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, home to 600 diamond companies. “We are here to assist African states to trade here,” says Malcolm Wall Morris, DMCC chief executive.

This year, the EU suspended most sanctions after the country’s voters approved a new constitution, limiting presidential powers and paving the way for elections. —Financial Times

For Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government, diamond sales should be an important source of revenue.

However, Tendai Biti, the finance minister and member of the MDC-T, which shares power with Zanu PF, regularly complains about the murkiness of the industry and the small amounts it contributes to state coffers.

Biti has battled for increased transparency in the management of diamond revenues without success, underscoring the limited powers of MDC members of the dysfunctional unity government that took office in 2009.

Last year, the country exported US$760 million worth of diamonds—its second-biggest export earner after tobacco —while the government’s official take was US$84 million.

Opposition politicians fear the diamond money will go towards keeping the security forces on Mugabe’s side and could be used to help to fund the Zanu PF political campaign.

Mining Directors Testify before Zimbabwe Parliament

The following article is published courtesy of: IDEX online

Author: Edon Ophir

 

The directors of various mining companies working in conjunction with the Zimbabwean government to develop the controversial Marange diamond field appeared Tuesday before the Zimbabwean Parliament’s Committee on Mines, the Voice of America reported Wednesday.

The government-controlled mining companies Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners took control of the Marange mining area after title holder African Consolidated Resources was driven out by President Robert Mugabe in 2006.

The companies’ directors, under the advice of Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, had previously refused to appear before Parliament for several weeks. Robert Mhlanga, representing Mbada, and Corgan Matanhire, representing Canadile, were questioned for more than four hours over Marange deals, such as the attempted auction of 300,000 carats of diamonds in January. The government had canceled the auction after it was discovered that the goods were not certified by the Kimberley Process.

The hearing was apparently very heated, according to VOA correspondents reporting from the Parliament, with legislators unhappy over the responses they received and warning the executives they would face charges if they lied.

Committee members also expressed concern that neither Mbada nor Canadile had experience in diamond mining, since Mbada is controlled by Reclamation Group, a South African scrap metal and iron dealer.

IDEX Online Exclusive: KP Chair Hirsch Speaks of Zimbabwe, Israel and Changes to the Process

This article is published courtesy of: IDEX online

Author: Edahn Golan

In his first interview as Kimberley Process Chair, Boaz Hirsch tells IDEX Online that Zimbabwe is “on the agenda” a nd that he wants to form a workgroup to resolve problems. However, ending the requirement for unanimous decisions is not on the table.

It took some time to set up an interview with Hirsch, who also serves as the director general for Foreign Trade at the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor. He is often out of the office, traveling around the world to encourage a nd support Israel’s international trade a nd trade relations. Add to that his extra KP responsibilities, and the available time seems to contract even further.

When we spoke, Abbey Chikane’s appointment as the KP Monitor in Zimbabwe had not yet been finalized. However, it was already clear from the Terms of Reference that define the Monitor’s role that the job would be limited to ensuring that the goods exported as Marange goods are indeed from the controversial diamond fields.

What the ToR does not include is a system on how to monitor activities at the fields, such as the prevention of smuggling o r human right abuses. These issues are at the heart of the outcry about Marange.

Hirsch seemed confident that these issues can and will be addressed. Following are his comments.

IDEX Online: What is Israel’s vision for the KP chair tenure?

Boaz Hirsch: “Israel’s vision is based on the importance of the process, on the fact that it should be a long term one and finding how to strengthen it. For example, one of the things we are looking at is Zimbabwe. This is an issue on the agenda and we hope that the cooperation will continue.

“Secondly, we are examining the issue of informal mining, which is mainly an issue of fulfillment, it’s a technical issue.”

A shipment of rough diamonds from De Beers was blocked a year ago because of a clerical error in the accompanying KP certificate. In a recent case, two young Israeli diamond dealers bought a parcel of rough diamonds in Africa, brought it to Israel and declared it. The goods were confiscated because they didn’t have a certificate and were purchased in a non-KP member country.

To follow official protocol, the goods should either be kept by authorities o r returned to their originating country. However, if the goods are kept by Israel, eventually they will be auctioned and placed into the stream of legitimate trade. If returned to Africa, they will be sold again, only to enter the legitimate trade. If the outcome is the same, clearly a mechanism to resolve such issues is necessary. The current system does not provide room for correcting such errors, and Hirsch is seeking to address this.

“Israel suggested a workgroup for the resolution of problems, such as shipments of rough diamonds that their accompanying KP certificate is not fully detailed but there was no need to confiscate them. We want to establish a committee that will include the heads of the NGOs, WDC and country representatives. This was discussed,” Hirsch told IDEX Online.

IDEX Online: Turning to Zimbabwe, is the KP able to address the issues there effectively? Isn’t the need for a unanimous decision crippling? After all, all it takes is for Zimbabwe to vote against any decision relating to it to block a ruling.

Boaz Hirsch: KP is a consensus based process, it’s not perfect but it’s one of the building blocks of the process. The [Monitor’s] Terms of Reference is a strong document. The process is dynamic, and when you look at it … it takes time to check, validate information. We can’t do it instantly.

The monitor is quit a strong mechanism,” Hirsch claims. “In addition, we agreed that there will be another review mission. If it takes place regularly, we will have a good picture of the situation. It is important that the exchange with Zimbabwe continues, it’s important.

IDEX Online: Where do you stand on the need for a unanimous vote to arrive at decisions and hiring a full time employee that will be in charge of knowledge transfer from one Chair to the next, updating the KP website, etc., and other suggestions that were made to improve KP’s ability to operate effectively?

Boaz Hirsch: We are currently looking into creating a body of knowledge for the KP. As far as consensus is concerned, I’m not there yet. The consensus is a firm characteristic of the process. [Forming the resolution workgroup and addressing the situation in Zimbabwe] is ample for a one year presidency. We need to have results on two issues instead of bringing six to the table.

 

IDEX Online: Your background is not in diamonds. Whom did you consult with when you joined the KP?

Boaz Hirsch: I took a few weeks to think about [becoming the chairperson on Israel’s behalf] and consulted with Israelis and others abroad, such as World Diamond Council President Eli Izhakoff. I was attracted to it because it was interesting. This industry affects the lives of millions of people in developing countries around the world.

IDEX Online: Is adopting human rights issues a top priority of the KP?

Boaz Hirsch: This is a process that looks at human rights issues. Period. It looks at it via the diamond industry. It is still being seriously discussed and all the participants consider it a vastly important issue. There is a difference between human rights in the diamond industry and human rights in other industries.

IDEX Online: Are there other important issues that need to be addressed?

Boaz Hirsch: Maybe we should look closer at smuggling. Should we bring in non-members into the fold to correct this? Enforcement is another issue – we want to discuss this at the inter-plenary meeting.

IDEX Online: Anything else that you would like to add?

Boaz Hirsch: We are in a process. I’m eager to hear from the industry and will welcome any input people may have. They can email me.

The chairmanship is a huge responsibility that affects millions of people. The burden is on our shoulders to not only maintain, but to add value to all parties in the process. Coming from a country that is one of the largest in the industry, we can appreciate [the importance].

We need to find the equilibrium that will bring it to a better place for the interest of everybody.

Abbey Chikane appointed as KP Monitor

He will play the role of ensuring implementation of the Joint Work Plan
By: Diamond World

Mr. Abbey Chikane, a founder Chairman of the Kimberley Process, has been appointed as the Kimberley Process Monitor for Zimbabwe. He was scheduled to visit Zimbabwe between 1-3 March 2010. The Kimberley Process appointed a ‘KP Monitor’ under a Joint Work Plan which was agreed with Zimbabwe at the Swakopmund Plenary meeting, in November 2009, to address the indications of serious non-compliance with KP’s minimum requirements identified in July 2009.

The Joint Work Plan lists down Zimbabwe’s commitments to ensure diamond mining in the Marange area in full compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). Implementation of the Joint Work Plan will be closely monitored by the KP, notably through the ‘KP Monitor’ while exports of Marange diamonds will be subject to prior verification of compliance.

Mr. Chikane’s visit follows an invitation from the government of Zimbabwe that stated, in a letter to the KP: “In the interest of quick implementation of the Swakopmund Decision and the Joint Work Plan, Zimbabwe wished to express its readiness to have the KP Monitor in the country … in view of the tasks contained in the Joint Work Plan that need to be urgently accomplished”.

Mr. Boaz Hirsch, Chairman of the Kimberley Process, stated that as Chair of the Kimberley Process, Israel has set the fulfillment of the Kimberley Process standards in the Marange area at the top of its priorities. Implementation of the Joint Working Plan, said Mr. Hirsch, is an important step in the right direction. The KP Monitor’s role involves liaising with the Zimbabwean government, as represented by Ministry of Mines, to assess implementation of the Joint Work Plan, and report the same to the Kimberley Process. The KP Monitor will also be involved in the process of supervising exports of Marange diamonds in compliance with KP minimum requirements. To enable the KP Monitor fulfill his mission, the Zimbabwean government has committed to ensure complete access to all relevant diamond production and processing sites and relevant stakeholders from mining to export, including representatives of government, industry and civil society.

Courtesy of Diamond World

Kimberley Process appoints monitor for Zimbabwe

Jerusalem–The Kimberley Process (KP) has designated a monitor to address allegations of serious KP violations in the diamond-producing nation of Zimbabwe and to bring that country back into compliance, according to a media release issued today.

According to the release, the governments and civil society organizations that are involved in the KP, the process put in place to stem the flow of “conflict” or “blood” diamonds into the trade, nominated Abbey Chikane as the KP monitor for Zimbabwe.

A founding chairman of the KP, Chikane will visit Zimbabwe between now and March 3 to assess the situation and prepare for the implementation of the joint work plan.

The KP formulated the joint work plan–which Zimbabwe agreed to–at its plenary meeting held in November in Swakopmund, Namibia, to address serious issues in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond mining area, the site of reported, widespread human rights abuses.

The plan outlines the commitments Zimbabwe needs to make to bring this area back into full compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which imposes extensive requirements on KP members that wish to certify their rough diamonds as “conflict-free.”

The KP will closely monitor implementation of the plan through Chikane’s work as monitor, and exports of rough diamonds from the Marange region–which are currently banned due to KP violations–will be subject to verification of compliance by Chikane.

According to the release, the KP monitor visit takes place in response to an invitation from Zimbabwe, which stated in a letter to the KP, “In the interest of the quick implementation of the Swakopmund Decision and the Joint Work Plan, Zimbabwe wished to express its readiness to have the KP Monitor in the country … in view of the tasks contained in the Joint Work Plan that need to be urgently accomplished.”

KP Chairman Boaz Hirsch said as chair of the KP, Israel has made KP compliance in the Marange area of Zimbabwe one of its top priorities, and implementation of the plan is an important step in the right direction.

In the release, Hirsch thanked the government of Zimbabwe for its cooperation and thanked the chair of the working group on monitoring, Stephane Chardon, for successfully managing negotiations with Zimbabwe.

According to the release, Chikane’s role as monitor will be to liaise with the Zimbabwean government, as represented by the country’s Ministry of Mines, in order to assess implementation of the joint work plan and report regularly to the KP on his progress.

In addition, as monitor, Chikane will play a key role in supervising rough exports from the Marange region to ensure they meet the minimum requirements of the KP.

According to the release, the Zimbabwean government has committed to ensure full and unhindered access to all relevant diamond production and processing sites as well as to all relevant stakeholders from the point of mining to the point of export, including representatives of the government, civil society and industry.

courtesy of National Jeweler

Zimbabwe says it has produced 2m carats of diamonds so far this year

The announcement from the country comes the day after an international monitor arrived to review the mining operations at the controversial Marange fields

source: Mineweb

HARARE (REUTERS)

Zimbabwe has so far this year produced 2 million carats of diamonds from its controversial Marange fields, a government official said on Tuesday, a day after an international monitor arrived to review the mining operations.

Rights groups, which accuse Zimbabwe’s security forces of widespread attrocities in a bid to stop thousands of illegal miners on the poorly secured fields in the eastern part of the country have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds.

Ministry of Mines secretary Thankful Musukutwa told a parliamentary committee the government was complying with demands from diamond trade regulator Kimberly Process, which last year gave the country six months to improve conditions in Marange.

“We should be at 2 million carats now this year,” Musukutwa said when asked how many diamonds had been mined from Marange, adding that a consultant from diamond producer Namibia had been hired to help train Zimbabweans.

The government, through its mining arm Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, has partnered little known South African companies, Grandwell Holdings and Core Mining, to set up joint venture firm Mbada Diamonds to mine Marange diamonds.

Kimberly Process monitor Abbey Chikane, a South African, arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday and on Tuesday travelled to Marange to assess whether the government was complying with watchdog’s requirements, Musukutwa said.

Musukutwa said Chikane would then be able to certify Zimbabwe’s diamonds for export.

In January, the government stopped the auction of 300,000 carats of diamonds by Mbada Diamonds because the sale had not been sanctioned by the Kimberly Process.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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