The New African Diamond Council Ad

There has been a bit of talk about  the new Africa Diamond Council public service announcement, which you can see here:

I had an email interview today with Dr. André A. D. Jackson, the Angola-based founder and chairman of the group, which is comprised of African diamond producing countries. He says that the ad “will make its debut in the European Union, Middle East, Asia and the United States two weeks before Valentine’s Day.”  It has already aired in Africa and even won an award there.

He adds:

The purpose of the PSA is to enlighten consumers that conflict diamonds [are] still one of the most serious problems within the African diamond industry.

We (the ADC) are urging consumers to become more familiar with the history of their (potential) diamond purchases. We are also advocating (KP) certification and certificates of origin.

In short, we’re basically encouraging consumers to become more aware of how their diamonds are sourced.

Since 2009 was a fairly trying year on the front end of the global diamond industry, we took time to not only tackle our leading dilemma, but used this year to carefully restructure and reorganize our industry.

As for me, I have no problem with the ad’s message, and think the ADC will eventually become one of most important associations in the industry. Yet I find the whole thing curious. I remember, when NGOs put out similar ads in 2001, council members Botswana and Namibia released statements against them. It’s hard to see how this ad will, as the Council’s website proclaims, “remove the negative stigma associated with African diamond production” – if anything it will do just the opposite.  There is far more consumer-friendly certification available for Canadian stones than for African ones.

More seriously, a Council member is Zimbabwe, the very country that is now a huge problem for the Kimberley Process and is currently  adding to the“negative stigma” associated with the industry as a whole. (Zimbabwe’s well-deserved suspension from the Kimberley Process was blocked by other Council members.) If the ADC wants to make consumers more aware of what is going on out there, that’s its right, but I feel at this point there are problems that need to be addressed before we start advertising the benefits of certification.

Be interested in your comments ….

UPDATE: Dr. Jackson responded to this post with these comments:

The Public Service Announcement will surely improve ADC’s chances to make a positive impact on the global diamond industry, since it will not only educate end-consumers, but shall utilize them to support us in realizing our undertaking. The ADC is not only relentlessly working the front end of the industry, we are also aggressively addressing the back end with the launch of this PSA. Fighting our issues from both ends, we shall surely unearth long-term solutions for our industry’s past oversights …

Since Zimbabwe is an African diamond producing country, that alone justifies their membership within the ADC. We have devoted a great deal of time and effort to ensure that Zimbabwe comprehends our mission and objectives. We shall not retreat from our obligation to tightly govern Zimbabwe’s diamond industry and we shall continue to internally encourage their government to follow the example we are trying to set here at ADC. There are grave consequences for each country’s failure to comply with ADC’s strict rules and regulations and corruption will not be tolerated. Lastly, the Zimbabwean President has recently granted us full and unlimited access to the country’s diamond mining areas and the government is well aware that they could be used as an example for all members, if it comes down to that.

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JCK News Director