Diamonds / Industry / Marketing / Retail / Shows

The Natural Diamond Council’s Fall Campaign Is Icy, Brilliant, and Beautiful


If there’s one thing David Kellie, CEO of the Natural Diamond Council, won’t forget about his recent trip to Canada’s Northwest Territories, it’s that you must never, ever leave a diamond alone on the ice.

“They were photographing a 33-carat diamond on the ice road, but it was so cold and the heat conductivity of the diamond is so strong that the diamond just starts sinking,” Kellie told JCK at the recent JCK Las Vegas show. “Imagine the panic.”

That is just one of many fascinating anecdotes Kellie shared about his group’s visit to the region with actress Lily James, NDC global ambassador and the star of its fall 2024 campaign. The trip included stops at Gahcho Kué, De Beers’ Canadian diamond mine; Rio Tinto’s Yellowknife splitting facility; and Diamonds de Canada, the sole producer of the Polar Bear Diamond.

In addition to sharing a sneak peek of the campaign video and pictures, Kellie talked to us about the NDC’s new location for the Vegas show: It staged a four-day takeover of Yardbird, a restaurant located near the entrance to the Venetian Expo.

“We were with the team seven or eight months ago and said, ‘How do we create an environment where people can come together, a bit like a business lounge, hang out, and meet other people all in the same space?’ So we thought, ‘What if we take over a restaurant?'” This gave the NDC “a lounge space…lunch space, and…bar space for events” during JCK, Kellie explained.

NDC Natural Diamond Club
The NDC’s Natural Diamond Club in Las Vegas

At Yardbird, NDB hosted an event celebrating the new issue of its magazine, Only Natural Diamonds—which includes a feature article, “A Song of Ice & Diamonds,” by Only Natural Diamonds jewelry and watch editor Grant Mobley, about the team’s experience in the Canadian Arctic.

Below, Kellie elaborates on the NDC campaign, why it takes guts to travel to the Northwest Territories in February, and what kept him out til 5 a.m. during the trip.

Can you tell us about the new campaign?

We are promoting the values of real, rare, and responsible. And it stars Lily James, our ambassador for the past couple of years.

It really started in Botswana when we were there just over a year ago to shoot our Botswana campaign. [James] was the one that said, “I’m so inspired by this. I’d like to see more.” So when we suggested the Northwest Territories of Canada in February, we expected most celebrities to say, “You know, that’s not my gig.” But she was up for it. She said, “I would love to go and see it. It’s a unique opportunity.”

So we went in February. It was a trip inspired by discovery, which is to go and see what actually happens there, the communities, etc. While we were there, we shot a new campaign—and I’ve got to say, it was the most incredible experience.

Lily James NDC campaign
Lily James amid the northern lights in Northwest Territories, Canada

It was February, so it was minus-40 degrees. And the good thing about minus-40 degrees, it’s the same in centigrade and in Fahrenheit. So I can say that without quantifying anything. Plus the wind chill. I mean, the cold is incredible. But we shot all the campaign outside. None of it is stock imagery; every single video in there, we shot.

We were out on the ice road looking at the environmental protection, the water testing, the wildlife protection. We met with the local communities to hear exactly how, without the diamond mines, the young people would be leaving the Northwest Territories to find jobs. Like India, like Botswana, this industry, when you travel and see it firsthand is pretty inspiring.

How would you compare the Canadian mine with those you’ve visited in Africa?

Much colder. But what struck me was that it’s exactly the same. And not just the mine, but the community outreach, the wildlife protection. You’d expect to go into such diverse. polar-opposite places in the world and find things different because there are different local cultures.

NDC campaign Jonas Sangris
Jonas Sangris, former chief of Yellowknives Dene First Nation

When we were writing scripts and copy, with the exception of the names of the locations, the story’s identical for Botswana and Northwest Territories. And that’s really striking, because in most industries—fashion or any other industry—it’s very adapted to the local market. It was the comparison that I found incredible when I was there.

Will this be a holiday campaign?

It breaks September 9. And we’ll be doing it both ourselves and in conjunction with retailers.

The images from the video are breathtaking.

All were shot in three or four days. None of that is stock imagery. We had an incredible director, a guy called Renan Ozturk, who’s climbed Everest multiple times, shot for National Geographic. And this guy just didn’t want to sleep.

NDC campaign fox
A fox roaming in Yellowknife, Canada

We did time-lapse photography with the northern lights. So he slept out on the ice. But for security, we had to have someone with him, for the insurance, because he had a 33-carat diamond. So Grant Mobley slept out on the ice with him. That’s an experience Grant will tell forever.

We saw caribou. We literally had given up hope of seeing caribou, and then someone on the ice road said, “Look, if you go a mile up the road, you’ll catch caribou.” So the convoy turned around, headed up there, got the drones up. And we were so lucky.

And then the northern lights—they were just spectacular. We did an ice plunge in the pool. Me at my age, I did an ice plunge. All I can tell you is that I was out till 5 o’clock in the morning partying, and I haven’t done that for 25 years.

Where do you party in the Northwest Territories?

In Yellowknife. We found this amazing bar that had a great band on. The local community said, “Come and join us.” It was brilliant.

This sounds like your next press trip, if I do say so myself.

You’ve got to have the courage to do it in February to really enjoy it, whereas most say, “Let’s go in August.” But if you’ve got the courage to do it in February, it’s spectacular.

Top: A 33 ct. round brilliant-cut natural diamond and a rough natural diamond (all photos courtesy of the Natural Diamond Council)

Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine

By: Victoria Gomelsky

Log Out

Are you sure you want to log out?

CancelLog out