Industry Groups Announce New Way to Track the Origin of Diamonds

A coalition of leading U.S. industry groups has released “The Diamond Source Warranty Protocol,” which they bill as a new way to track the origin of diamonds.

The new protocol, endorsed by Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, and the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America, is designed to allow buyers and retailers to avoid, if they wish, diamonds from certain areas. While the protocol does not specify what those areas would be, they could include areas like the Marange region of Zimbabwe—which is currently subject to U.S. sanctions—or countries that are not members of the Kimberley Process.

Protocol documents can be seen here, and frequently asked questions can be seen here.

Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the JVC, notes the new language goes further than the Kimberley Process’ System of Warranties, which only guarantees compliance with the KP.

Instead, the new protocol provides buyers and sellers with contractual language that will require certain procedures tracking a stone’s origin be put in place. The procedures would have to be reviewed by an outside auditor.

“You insert the relevant language into your contractual language,” says Gardner. “It becomes an enforceable contract between you.”

Jewelers of America president and CEO Matthew Runci admits that the protocol will take some time to implement, and it shouldn’t be seen as a “on-off” switch.

“We know this is not the way industry works today,” he says. “This is about trying to facilitate continuous improvement regarding the industry’s ability to provide a higher level of confidence among consumers. With time and effort to work on it and improve their practices, we believe more will be possible. The thought here is to recognize there is a need, provide people with a tool, and encourage people to talk to their business partners about how they can accommodate those requests.”

He notes that use of the protocol is voluntary.

“It’s the decision of an individual business if they want to use it and to figure how they want to use it,” he says.

According to a JA statement, work on the Diamond Source Warranty Protocol began in 2011, and was spurred by the belief of several retailers that greater transparency and accountability was needed in the diamond supply chain. The United Kingdom consultancy Sustainable & Responsible Solutions Ltd. also contributed to the development of the protocol.