Rio Tinto: Other Producers Should Market Diamonds, Too

Rio Tinto Diamonds, which markets production from the Argyle, Diavik and Murowa mines, is getting more involved in promoting diamonds, Jean-Marc Lieberherr, general manager for marketing, told JCK recently.

“It is clear that De Beers is not ready to bear the burden of generating demand for the industry,” he said. “That has implications for everyone. The industry needs to take a more collective role in our future. [Rio Tinto is] playing a more active role in shaping the industry, but how does that translate into driving demand? I don’t know. I don’t think there is a philosophical answer to the question of who should drive demand.”

He noted that Rio Tinto, a mining company, typically does very little marketing. However, it has given money to and is helping set the course for the World Diamond Council’s Web site, which was originally portrayed as a De Beers initiative. (He says it will eventually include more facts about Canada and India.)

One approach to generating demand could be an arrangement along the lines of Platinum Guild International, in which all producers contribute to marketing, although Lieberherr said he is “not sure” that’s the answer.

Rio Tinto has taken a more active role promoting diamonds than the other non–De Beers producers. Its new U.S office, staffed by former Frederick Goldman vice president Rebecca Foerster, is talking about restarting the Champagne Diamond Registry and promoting pinks. It also gives sightholders the ability to use its Select Diamantaire mark.