DMIA Split Over Washington Letter

The formerly tight-knit Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association (DMIA) has gotten into an angry spat over a letter that’s being sent to Washington.

After a vote, the association sent a letter to Washington about the industry’s current problems. Recipients include the senators from New York and California and the Commerce Department.

It was pointedly not signed by president Leon Cohen, although it bears the signature of the group’s director, Ben Kinzler.

The part that caused the most fuss is the letter’s criticism of De Beers. While most of the letter doesn’t refer to De Beers explicitly, some sightholders thought it singled the company out.

In one paragraph, it noted that there is “a concerted, orchestrated effort to dramatically thin the ranks of small manufacturers and the middle market by carefully controlling and concentrating the distribution of product into fewer and more powerful hands.” Then, in its only explicit reference to De Beers, the letter said the DTC “envisions a soon to be heavily promoted trademark called the ‘Forevermark’ which is being likened to the ‘Woolmark.’ But unlike the Woolmark, the planned use will be permitted only to firms within its own carefully restricted, exclusionary distribution network. Whatever rationales are presented to defend such marketing strategies, the lowering of costs to consumers is not among them.”

The main thrust of the letter deals with what the group calls “unfair competition” from overseas customers.

The group noted that “individuals from [overseas] diamond centers flock here to sell their wares without any restriction, regulation, or record keeping. … They declare their goods upon import; declare what remains upon export, and generally that is the extent of it. Many never apply for a tax identification number (T.I.N.); few file tax returns reporting any business activity, and those that do have the obvious ability to shift any profit to their other bases of operation where they have advantageous situations referred to above… Is it unreasonable for us as American citizens to expect the same compliance with existing U.S. law from all who operate within our borders?”

At press time, the group had not received a response.