In recent months, two De Beers sightholders have had their allocations taken away for breaches of Best Practice Principles—a sign that we are perhaps seeing greater enforcement of the company’s ethical code.
Recently, De Beers knocked off its roster an Antwerp client active in Asia, which was cited for a labor issue at a Chinese factory, sources say.
This came on the heels of an unusual public defrocking of a Botswana sightholder in May, when a De Beers spokesman confirmed to local newspaper Business Week that Life Diamonds Botswana had lost its sight due to an unspecified BPP breach. The company had been the source of a court battle among diamantiares Erez Daleyot and Alon Arabov.
What’s striking is that these twin episodes are actually unprecedented. The BPP code has been around since 2003, and it is one of the few aspects of the original Supplier of Choice that has survived its various incarnations. And yet, before these two incidents, spokespeople say there was maybe one other client taken off the list for BPP violations. Most notoriously, throughout the GIA bribery scandal, not one sightholder was given the ax, although some were said to be involved. (In 2008, six Antwerp clients were taken off the list and then put back on.)
Spokeswoman Lynette Gould tells me: “The BPPs are our way of ensuring that our diamonds are brought to market in a way that is consistent with the values that consumers would ascribe to the product.”
Well, that is certainly how they were intended. But these two episodes may be a sign we are seeing the code finally get some teeth.