The new `Clean Diamonds Act’

The modified “Clean Diamonds Act” is mostly patterned after the bill Hall introduced in March. It aims to speed progress on a worldwide rough certification system by letting only diamonds from countries with rough controls into the United States.

The new bill includes concessions from both sides. The industry agreed to include diamond jewelry in the bill-something to which it had previously objected. The new bill says jewelry producers who want to import into the United States must use stones procured from countries with rough controls. Under the old bill, the jewelry producers would have been forced to install the controls themselves.

While the new bill requires that rough controls be in place within six months, it provides open-ended waivers for “cooperating” countries. Hall’s bill originally allowed six-month waivers only, but he eventually compromised on this point as it was felt this would make the bill more compliant with U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization.

The new bill also eliminates a section to which the industry objected-that is, letting jewelers tag their products as “conflict-free.” Hall’s people said they were just responding to retailer requests, but the industry argued that such labeling would be unnecessary if all imports were conflict-free.

There are also new sections providing financial support for countries that have difficulty implementing the controls, a call on the diamond industry to assist these countries, and greater industry representation on the panel monitoring the process. Finally, the bill’s preamble was rewritten to give the industry more credit for devising a solution to the problem.

To see the full text of the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov, and enter “S1084.”

More on the Clean Diamonds Act can be found in the August issue of JCK magazine.