The first diamonds “certified” as mined and cut in Canada were recently released to the Canadian market, says Martin Irving, director of Diamond Projects for the Government of the Northwest Territories. There also are plans to sell them in the Japanese and U.S. markets. “We’ve done basic research and found that selling it as a North American diamond has an appeal,” Irving says. He noted that many Canadian consumers also expressed interest in them for patriotic reasons.
Each “certed” diamond includes a notice explaining that the “diamond is a natural Canadian Arctic diamond that was mined, cut, and polished in the Northwest Territories.” Irving says the Canadian government has developed a stringent monitoring system that follows the diamond from the mine through the factory. In addition, all of the diamonds will be “Gemprinted,” using technology from the diamond fingerprinting company that’s also based in Canada.
Although the certificates are voluntary and will apply only to a small number of the diamonds currently mined in the Northwest Territories, this small-scale program has received an unusual amount of publicity. The New York Times recently ran the story on its front page, implying that the certification was Canada’s reaction to the “conflict diamond” issue. Soon afterwards, the Boston Globe followed up with a similar report. But Irving denies a link. “We announced this prior to conflict diamonds becoming an issue,” he says. “It has a certain advantage regarding conflict diamonds, but it’s not the objective of the program.” And he adds that, despite the article, Canada would never openly promote that as a selling point. “Here in the Northwest Territories, we have a history of consumer boycotts with the fur issue,” he says. “The more you get the ‘conflict diamond’ issue in the consumer’s mind, the whole industry suffers. That’s not something we are pushing in any way.”