Tiffany & Co. celebrated the opening of its Laurelton Diamonds cutting and polishing center located in Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Laurelton Diamonds is a Northwest Territories company and wholly owned subsidiary of Tiffany & Co. Its operation is now housed in a 12,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that will ultimately accommodate 75 employees, Tiffany said in a statement. The skilled workforce, currently in start-up mode with six polishers, will play an important role in supporting Tiffany’s expanding needs for high-quality diamonds.
“Laurelton Diamonds is an important link in a chain of supply that gives us more control over the sourcing of our diamonds,” said Tiffany & Co. Chairman Michael J. Kowalski. “This new facility also helps achieve our stated objective of providing meaningful economic opportunities to the local community and establishing closer ties to our Canadian partners.”
Kowalski also announced a $25,000 contribution to the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation to assist with “Operation Looking Glass,” a fundraising effort to purchase endoscopic equipment for the Stanton Territorial Hospital.
In 1999, Tiffany purchased a 14.7% equity investment ($71 million) in the Canada-based Aber Diamond Corporation, a 40% owner of the Diavik Diamonds Project in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Tiffany also entered into a diamond purchase agreement with Aber to purchase a minimum of $50 million in diamonds, subject to Tiffany’s quality standards, annually for 10 years.
Tiffany is the first retailer to enter into such an agreement to source rough stones directly from a mine. In addition to establishing a direct supply of high quality rough diamonds, the Diavik mine meets Tiffany’s rigorous standards for securing materials in the most environmentally and socially responsible manner. The first diamonds mined under the contract were delivered in March 2003, with the rough sent to Tiffany’s new sorting center in Antwerp, which has subsequently sent some of the rough to the Territories to be polished at this new Laurelton Diamonds facility.
Tiffany also signed an agreement with the Behcho Ko Development Corp. and the Kitikmeot Corp. that gives the Dogrib and Inuit business groups design and financial support for the development of a Northern inspired jewelry collection and the establishment of related manufacturing and merchandising operations in the North.