The DCGIA chapter members heard from two experts (Brad Brooks-Rubin & Ashley Orbach) on responsible sourcing in the gem and jewelry trade, including the extensive work of the Kimberley Process (KP), the international practice that governs the trade in rough diamonds.
The diamond industry is very unique and special, but it’s not alone in how consumers focus on its products. There are plenty other industries such as textiles which have a found a way to deal with responsible labor and sourcing issues.
Quoting lyrics from Chance the Rapper:
The TRUTH sometimes don’t RHYME
The LIES get Millions of VIEWS
Brad highlighted how KP works and can improve. Participating member countries use the
Kimberley Process to control and monitor the trade of rough diamonds. Participants certify the $30 billion annual international rough diamond trade by creating a documentary record for rough diamonds from mine to cutting and polishing. Rough diamonds must be shipped in sealed containers and exported with a Kimberley Process Certificate which certifies that the diamonds are conflict free.
Participants understand KP is a voluntary system of industry self-regulation, and provides for a record system underpinned through verification by independent auditors of individual companies and supported by internal penalties set by the industry. This helps to facilitate the full trace-ability of rough diamonds by government authorities. Participants also provide annual reports of official production, import and export data, shared and available to all participating members.
The thing about the KP is how much and how little it does simultaneously. On the “how much” side, rough diamonds are the only product with a worldwide certification scheme that encompasses everybody. A trade with complete oversight, including the artisanal mining sector which is often ignored in other sectors of mining. Contributing to economic development projects is the real aim of the KP.
On the “how little” side, “voluntary self-regulation” on the part of the diamond industry is represented by some as a significant lack of transparency and independent monitoring. There have been a lot of good efforts, but the process needs broader support, and broader understanding, and broader engagement, from Trade Associations, Government and Non-Government Organizations. Especially, in the review of the process and monitoring participants.
The KP is a very important tool. But it’s very specific to rough diamonds, and it is just one piece of the puzzle. A lot of people look at the KP as a one-stop shop for diamond issues, but it is not nor should it be.
Many African countries do not have sufficient tax revenues to pay for public education, unlike countries in many other parts of the world. Most African governments therefore need to charge students and their families for education. Botswana has taken a portion of diamond revenues to provide FREE schooling for children in primary school. Secondary education is 95% funded by the government, as well, enabling children to stay in school longer. Improving personal development and literacy rates and paving the way for future generations.
Revenues from diamonds also enable governments and health organizations to greatly improve existing public health services and provide new health services to those who have never had them before. Diamond revenues have funded more hospitals, more medical centers and more hospices, ensuring healthcare for millions of people.
Similar to KP the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) is a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder initiative to support supply chain solutions to conflict minerals challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes Region (GLR) of Central Africa. The PPA provides funding and coordination support to organizations working within the region to develop verifiable conflict-free supply chains and encourage responsible sourcing.
Brad Brooks-Rubin, is the global director of development and beneficiation at GIA, working to support GIA’s efforts to contribute to economic development projects in gem and jewelry producing countries. He also advises GIA on issues related to responsible sourcing in the gem and jewelry trade.
Ashley Orbach, was an official at the U.S. Department of State since 2003, was a senior adviser in the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau dealing with issues related to conflict and natural resources; supply chain transparency; and responsible sourcing in the extractives sector (all operations that remove natural resources from the earth).
Ashley discussed the primary goal of the U.S. Department of State, which is to shape a freer, more secure, and more prosperous world through formulating and implementing the President’s foreign policy, while supporting and protecting American interests abroad.
As it relates to KP, the State Department is responsible for international relations, with people on the ground in many countries working towards creating jobs at home by opening markets abroad and helping developing nations establish investment and export opportunities. Which brings nations together and forges partnerships to help address global problems.
Patricia Syvrud – Executive Director of the World Diamond Council was also on hand to answer questions. World Diamond Council was established to represent the diamond industry at the Kimberley Process. Website: http://www.worlddiamondcouncil.org
DCGIA thanks Brad Brooks-Rubin, Ashley Orbach and Patricia Syvrud for sharing with us!
Summary by Charles Marts – Secretary DCGIA