The New Anti-Diamond Movie, and Other Social Issue Thoughts

Some misc. thoughts on social and industry reputational issues:

– Here are some more details on the new mini-series about the diamond industry, entitled “Rough” (once a prospective title for this blog) which looks at the “shocking and exploitative world of diamonds” (cue ominous music): 

Ruthless Lucas Denmont (James Purefoy) is heir to his family’s once mighty, but now faltering, diamond conglomerate. Voracious and desperate to restore the business to its former glory, Denmont will stop at nothing; a stunning British model (Louise Rose) – with roots in West Africa – is recruited as “the face” of the Denmont diamond – and Denmont’s ‘diamond girl’- when she and Lucas fall deeply in love.  

Is this supposed to be Iman? Hooking up with Nicky Oppenheimer? Does Bowie know?

But wait … there’s more …

The unsolved murder of her geologist daughter pulls an American Senator, Joan Cameron (Judy Davis), into a massive investigation of the global diamond trade. Her daughter’s co-worker, Stephanie, meanwhile, flees her guilt in the remote Canadian Arctic where she signs on with a prospector who is struggling to keep the diamond discovery – he’s on the verge of making – out of the hands of a rival exploration company controlled by the Denmont Corporation.

On the ground in Sierra Leone, an orphaned boy’s horrific experiences as a child soldier for a vicious rebel movement force him into diamond theft in order to seek a better life.

This seems pretty cheesy (then again, Blood Diamond was kind of trashy too), but sadly, it looks like the industry will have to contend with more of these shows in the next couple of years. Even sadder, I have to watch all these things. Here are the screenwriters’ credits. No U.S. distributor has been announced.

– This weekend, I read the comments from the head of Alrosa, Sergey Vybornov, in Antwerp last week, and strongly disagree with this part:

Just recently [Global Witness’] Alex Yearsley gently invited us to go and fight Hugo Chavez because the latter is not proving enough statistics to smooth bureaucratic KP process. Let us be serious: exclusion of Venezuela will not add any value to KP or to the diamond industry. But it will definitely add to illegal trade because hundred percent of Venezuelan production will become illegal as was the case with Liberia.

Does he have a better solution for dealing with non-compliant countries? Yes, booting Venezuela out of Kimberley makes its production illegal. But illegal diamonds are harder to sell and fetch less money.  And so the country now has an economic interest in becoming compliant.

To be honest, I am not sure why this is even being debated, and why the KP is dragging their feet on this. If Venezuela is non-compliant, they should be booted out, tomorrow.  

Vybornov also gave a speech in May in Jerusalem, full of all sorts of Kimberley criticisms that, while valid in places, didn’t really add up to coherent critique or provide concrete suggestions on how Kimberley could be improved. Am I the only one wondering why the head of the world’s second largest diamond company is constantly bashing Kimberley? It seems a little off-message, for one thing, and I am not really sure what the larger point is.

– Also, last week, The Madison Dialogue held a meeting in Washington D.C. (PDF.) The Madison Dialogue holds regular meetings between the industry and NGOs, intended to improve transparency, communication, etc. etc.

Well, it’ s about transparency or communication, except …. the press wasn’t invited to the meetings. They were closed. I wrote one of the organizers to ask about this and didn’t even hear back. This in spite of the fact that attendees included a guy with a blog, and the publisher of a newsletter.

Look, I obviously have a vested interest here, and I fully support initiatives like this. But if you are going to endorse transparency, be transparent. Shutting out the press is not the way to do it.

– Finally, don’t think that social issues haven’t gone on off the media radar. Here is a rather lengthy Independent article about attempts to create Fair Trade gold.

JCK News Director