De Beers: Weary diamond industry must boost consumer confidence

As the world more closely scrutinizes the diamond industry, jewelers and diamond dealers must not allow themselves to grow ambivalent on the conflict diamond issue, says De Beers Group Director of Public and Corporate Affairs Rory More O’Ferrall.

O’Ferrall was the guest speaker at the Israel Diamond Institute’s annual press conference in Basel on Friday, April 5. “Some people may have conflict diamond fatigue. They don’t want to hear about it anymore and wish it would all go away,” he said. “Just because we’re weary of the subject, however, does not mean we should give up.” O’Ferrall stressed the importance of progress such as the Kimberley Process agreements, which will allow rough to be tracked internationally. “These are necessary to protect and increase consumer confidence,” he said.

This kind of system of warranties, while imperfect, is a necessary step in an industry that is changing, O’Ferrall noted. The public scrutiny that arose over conflict diamonds was not an isolated incident but rather the start of a new era.

O’Ferrall also said he would expect those types of “warranties” to be demanded throughout the industry, on everything from polished stones to finished jewelry. And while building consumer confidence may be a different focus for the traditionally insular diamond industry, such efforts will have long-term benefits for the industry, he said. A system of warranties, for example, will help prevent damage from such incidents as the recent alleged link between diamonds and international terrorist groups. “The fight against conflict diamonds has demonstrated to this fractured industry that it is possible to come together and accomplish something,” he said. “I hope that will be one of the defining features of our industry going forward.”