Thinking About Ed Zwick Thinking About Diamonds

Adding to my comment below, whatever one thinks of Zwick, his film or his sometimes scattershot attacks on the industry, I agree with some of what he had to say in our little interview. First off, the WDC campaign did paint too rosy a picture (a point I made way back when here), in a way that probably increased skepticism towards our industry, rather than lessened it.

More importantly, this industry needs to do more for West Africa. Yes, it’s done plenty for Southern Africa, and everyone should be proud of that. But there is a group of countries not too far away that are basically flat on their back in intensive care, and like it or not, our product (and in some cases, our industry) helped put them there.

Now, if you look at the current structure of the industry in Sierra Leone, it is not conducive to making a long-term investment in the country. A dealer jets in, buys some diamonds dirt-cheap, and then leaves. Not much way to help the population, assuming that person was pre-disposed to. There are also, I’ve heard, laws preventing the Lebanese (who control most of the industy there) from attaining full citizenship in Sierra Leone and that’s stopped them from taking a bigger interest in the country.

But fortunately, we have associations and charities that can act in a unified way on the industry’s behalf. At the Rapaport conference, one panelist suggested the industry sponsor Sierra Leone water. After all, water is clean and pure, like a diamond. No one really seized on the idea, but it’s, as Rapaport might say, “cute,” and worth pursuing, since it is not just a charitable one-off but something that can make a sustainable, long-term difference. The Diamond Development Initiative is great, but it is very much in its early days, and will take years to really change things. We need to brain-storm what we can do now.

JCK News Director