De Beers, which spent the last year and a half renouncing its role of "custodian" of the industry, is reclaiming that mantle. Managing director Gary Ralfe has used the term in interviews and meetings with representatives of diamond centers, ever since De Beers cut back its allocations in response to the worldwide drop in demand. But spokesman Andrew Lamont says the return to form is temporary. "We are in the process of transition," he says. "We do not ever see us returning to the full custodian role. We believe the way ahead is for everybody to grow demand. However, we are increasing our market support, as that is the action one expects from a market leader." Some analysts read use of the once-forbidden term as a possible sign that De Beers is rethinking its direction, especially in light of the delays in De Beers' "Supplier of Choice" strategy caused by the European Union.