‘The Gun Is Still Pointed at Us’

At a recent meeting of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee there was yet another discussion of the film Blood Diamond. This time, the meeting attendees congratulated themselves on a job well done, since the film’s impact appeared to be insignificant.

The consensus opinion was: The industry dodged a bullet as a result of a concerted effort on the part of many industry groups and leaders to address this latest threat. The World Diamond Council, Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Jewelers of America, the Diamond Trading Company, and J. Walter Thompson were recognized for their work. Every industry association, however, joined in the effort to factually communicate to those on the front lines of the jewelry business. As a result, sales personnel, managers, and owners were armed with facts to answer consumers’ questions about conflict diamonds.

But the key issue was summed up by this remark from one of the participants: “While we dodged the bullet this time, remember that the gun is still pointed at us!”

The nongovernmental organizations think the industry has not done enough to eliminate conflict diamonds from the marketplace, facts notwithstanding. Two examples back up this statement. First, one of the NGOs, Global Witness, chose Dec. 19, 2006, to write to the trade “to update their global survey on what a range of companies are doing to stop the trade in blood diamonds and support the implementation of the Kimberley Process.” The second example is the characterization of the wider industry’s efforts with reports such as “Broken Vows.”

Note the date of the letter containing the survey questions. It probably arrived at its destinations around Dec. 22. Good timing for those in the jewelry industry, wouldn’t you say? The letter refers to a 2004 survey “focusing on some of the largest diamond jewellery companies in the United States.” In fact, that survey was addressed to 34 firms, and five responded. This, I suppose, is representative of the U.S. retail sector. As the letter states, “Some did not provide details about specific measures they were taking to ensure they were not buying or selling conflict diamonds or how the system of warranties is being implemented.”

The notion that a gun is still pointed at the industry should be clear to anyone who understands the tactics employed by the NGOs or reads their reports and evaluates their actions. What strikes me most about these groups is their arrogant attitude combined with “requests” for information, as reflected in this latest survey.

It should be industry groups that prepare and mail questionnaires to their members, tabulate the answers, and respond to the NGOs. Otherwise the NGOs will add bullets, grenades, and RPGs to their ordnance!