Australian-Origin Certified Diamonds to Hit Store Shelves

Rio Tinto Diamonds also plans to offer certified Canadian gems

Last week, I wrote about GIA’s proposed diamond origin tracking service and mentioned that De Beers and Alrosa are pursuing similar initiatives. I immediately got a note from Rio Tinto Diamonds (RTD) about its new tracking program—and in some ways, it’s the most ambitious of them all.

RTD’s Australian Diamonds program, set to debut this month, provides an audited mine-to-polished chain of custody for stones from its Argyle mine. A Canadian Diamonds program—covering RTD’s share of the production from Diavik—will come on stream later this year.

The two programs have dual purposes, explains Bruno Sané, Rio Tinto Diamonds’ general manager of marketing.

For the trade, it guarantees the diamonds are not lab grown: “The screening technology today is less reliable with small and brown diamonds. The browns are usually rejected as type IIs. This makes sure your source is reliable.”

For consumers, it provides proof of origin: “The younger generation is looking for more and more transparency, and they are extremely well informed. This gives information about where the diamond is coming from and explains the journey the diamond has been on. We are proud of the contribution we have made to local development in Australia and Canada. We think this will resonate with the young consumers.”

As with similar initiatives, the program uses manufacturers’ existing systems, then grafts controls and audits on top of them. Still, the question pops up: How much does all that cost?

So far not much, says Sané: “Most manufacturers track their products to understand the profitability of their rough. The only cost is the inventory cost because you have to keep the goods segregated and wait until you have your order. So it’s more a financial cost rather than a manufacturing cost. But once we reach a critical mass, those costs will disappear.”

Of course, the diamonds don’t have to be sold as Australian or Canadian—they are regular diamonds, after all. But Rio Tinto has developed marketing materials for retailers who choose to present them that way, including information about all the steps in the diamond’s journey—from the mine through the cutter.

So far, all of RTD’s Select Diamantaire manufacturers (though not all its trading partners) are on board with the program. More about it can be seen here.

(Photo courtesy of Rio Tinto Diamonds)

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JCK News Director

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