Diamonds: Kimberley & the Ivory Coast, De Beers & Everlon

KP Targets the Ivory Trade

The Kimberley Process is turning its attention to reports that conflict diamonds are entering the market from the Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) in West Africa.

As the only country whose diamonds are considered “conflict” under the traditional definition (“diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments”), the Ivory Coast has, since 2006, faced Kimberley Process and United Nations sanctions.

Nevertheless, past U.N. and KP reports have indicated that diamonds continue to be mined in the Ivory Coast and may be leaving through neighboring countries.

In light of continued instability in the country, KP chairman Mathieu Yamba sent out a notice on Feb. 15 urging participants “to exercise strong vigilance” to prevent Ivory Coast diamonds from entering the market. “It is imperative that the KPCS address this matter decisively, thereby ensuring that Ivorian diamonds do not infiltrate the legitimate trade,” Yamba wrote.

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses followed with an exhortation to member bourses to heed the chairman’s words. KP sources say the World Customs Organization has issued a notice to be on the lookout for increased smuggling from the area.

In related news, on Feb. 4, Wiki­Leaks released a Jan. 2009 cable printed by The Telegraph in which U.S. diplomats call the Kimberley Process “slow” and say the Democratic Republic of Congo is the scheme’s “biggest weakness.” This is notable because current KP chair Yamba represents the DRC government.

Knot an Issue

Courtesy of D.I.C.
Everlon Diamond Knot ring

De Beers, which had been involved in a trio of lawsuits over its Everlon Diamond Knot Collection, has dropped or settled all of the claims. In December 2009, Los Angeles manufacturer Orogem sued De Beers, claiming the Everlon knot infringed on its Larkhead Pendant designs. That case was settled on Jan. 4, 2011. On Jan. 27, 2011, De Beers also dropped its lawsuit against retailer Kohl’s and manufacturer Brilliant ­Jewels, after it had accused them of infringing on its Everlon patents. Another suit, targeting Adwar Casting and Dinaro Creations’ knot-inspired collections, was dropped in November 2010.

Royal Flush

Courtesy of Royal Asscher
The Deputy Mayor with Lita, Edward, and Mike Asscher

The Asscher family—the one behind the Royal Asscher Diamond Company—has again been awarded the royal title by the queen of the Netherlands, in acknowledgment of its leading role in the diamond industry. The title, active for 25 years, was granted by Amsterdam’s deputy mayor, Lode­wijk Asscher (cousin to the family), at the Royal Asscher headquarters in Amsterdam on Feb. 16.

Team Spirit

The 78 ct. Ekati Spirit diamond fetched $6.1 million at auction in Antwerp, Belgium, on Feb. 14. The diamond is the most significant gem to be discovered at BHP Billiton’s Ekati mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. To ­acknowledge the importance of its workers, owner BHP Billiton held an employee contest to mine the stone.

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