The Natural Diamond Council: Protecting the Integrity and Reputation of the Diamond Industry
As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, transparency for the post COVID-19 consumer is going to be a very big deal. People will be monitoring and assessing each and every purchase with strict vigilance.
This pandemic, often compared to the Great Depression when it comes to economic impact, has put things in perspective and has proven to many that quality over quantity reigns; we have grown to understand exactly what we need to live and be happy—which is very little. We have begun to really comprehend that family, friends, health, and the earth’s wellbeing should be at forefront of our lives…now and forever. We’re scaling back and embracing a new minimalist attitude, and this goes for diamonds, too. If a ring, pendant, or bracelet (old or new) is coming into our life for an occasion—or just because—we want to know exactly where it’s from and what it represents. Integrity and sustainability have become paramount across many a luxury market, especially the diamond one.
Enter the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), formerly known as the “Diamond Producers Association (DPA).” The NDC has further consolidated its position by changing its commercial slogan from “Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond” to the more captivating “Only Natural Diamonds (OND).”
The Natural Diamond Council is the representative organization of seven of the world’s largest diamond producers, established to maintain demand for, and confidence in, diamonds by promoting the integrity and reputation of the diamond industry and sharing best practices. The members of the NDC include ALROSA, De Beers Group, Dominion Diamond, Lucara Diamond, Murowa Diamonds, Petra Diamonds, and Rio Tinto. A safe haven for the world of Natural Diamonds, the Council discusses and delves into all things related to these billions-of-years-old symbols of love and commitment.
The NDC carries out its mission by doing the following:
- Communicating the inherent value and benefits of natural diamonds and the companies supplying them
- Reinforcing the positive impact of the natural diamond industry by sharing insights, communicating best practices, and promoting ethical, social, and environmental standards
- Ensuring clear and accurate information about diamonds and the diamond industry
- Partnering with industry stakeholders for the purpose of driving transparency and trust
Think of the NDC as a resource to teach you about the realm of natural diamonds, their benefits, and developing trends. There is a huge, supported emphasis on just how socially and environmentally responsible their seven industry partners (who represent approximately 75% of the world’s rough diamond production) really are. It is through this ongoing dedication to cultivating trust and consistent communication that allow the Council to keep a very important part of the jewelry world alive and thriving.
A study conducted by the The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) with Trucost in 2016 found that its members provide $16,022 billion in total net benefit contribution, and $4 billion is contributed to salaries and benefits. In fact, the DPA members pay 4.8 times the living wage paid to the average worker.
The most important benefits generated by DPA members in 2016 were linked to the direct and indirect benefits of local procurement of goods and services ($6.8B / $206 per polished carat, or 40% of total benefits), and the payment of wages and benefits to employees and contractors ($3.9B / $116 per polished carat, 23% of total benefits). The creation of highly remunerated employment opportunities represents a key contribution of the DPA members to local livelihoods in communities surrounding the mine sites.
Local communities and governments are able to thrive due to the levels of consistent work at above-average wage rates. In fact—also in 2016—it was shown that DPA members employed over 77,000 employees and contractors at mines in Australia, Botswana, Canada, Namibia, and several other countries. This total number is comparable to that of Fortune 500 companies.
But, of course, aside from many socioeconomic and eco-conscious advantages, there is an undeniable sentimentality behind a natural diamond. You simply feel better about passing on a natural object as an heirloom; it has a history, a revolution, and a birth story behind it that dates all the way back to its initial discovery in 4 and 6 B.C. It is this type of rich understanding that helps us form an emotional response.
And now, in 2020, our need for meaning and nostalgia is greater than ever. “Consumers will be purchasing luxury goods with a greater meaning, particularly those celebrating connections between friends and loved ones,” says Natural Diamond Council CEO, David Kellie.
A natural diamond has proven time and time again that it’s a worthy, smart purchase for a myriad of reasons. In addition to the newer concepts of sustainability and economic prosperity, the natural diamond entails a valid passion for collecting something beautiful and utterly pure, according to Paul Redmayne, Head of Private Sales, Jewelry at Phillips. “Since the beginning of time, man has been fascinated and captivated by beautiful natural diamonds and that hasn’t changed…people have seen that the price to replace the important stones that they already own has increased significantly, and as a result they’ve actively pursued this existing passion and predilection for stones,” he says.
The NDC will not only continue to advertise their cause globally, but has also launched its own publishing brand, pushing out timely and news-worthy content pertaining to the gemological industry. Their robust website at www.naturaldiamonds.com is filled with editorial content that ranges from information about natural diamonds to trends, to the magic and mystery of exceptional stones, past and present.
The mission of this new platform and rebranding is to provide engaging content for consumers to enjoy, as well as attract a new, younger audience—and, first and foremost, to educate consumers on the importance of natural diamonds, sustainability, ethical practices of diamond producers, what to know and consider when buying diamond jewelry, and who you can trust to buy from. The site also features a resource portal to aid Diamond Professionals, including retailers and designers.
“When we speak about natural diamonds we do not always think about the communities where diamonds come from and the real people who benefit from them. Diamonds are more than jewelry, they have a societal legacy,” said Raluca Anghel, Head of External Affairs and Industry Relations at the NDC.
Natural diamonds have the power to improve and enrich communities. To make this a reality, the Natural Diamond Council Members have shaped three pledges which support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These are “Strengthening Communities,” “Protecting the Environment,” and “Promoting Gender Equality and Inclusivity.”
One of the ways in which these goals are achieved is by working in harmony with local governments to identify infrastructural development projects that will provide long-term value to the area, such as mobility, housing, and healthcare. Communities feel the positive impact of a diamond producer’s operations long after the mine has closed. Each year, DPA Members infuse US $6.8 billion in surrounding communities through local sourcing, which in turn supports the growth of small and medium enterprises.
Natural Diamond Council members take great steps to preserve the biodiversity of the areas where diamonds are recovered. To ensure that the environmental impact is properly managed, any decision to build is preceded by major environment and biodiversity studies, together with the consultation of indigenous communities, and local and regional governments. For every acre of land used for mining, the NDC members set aside three for land conservation. Conducting sustainable mining practices also requires an ongoing commitment to preserving water resources and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions production.
A mere generation ago, many countries participating in large-scale mining prohibited the employment of women in many areas, including underground work. Today, close to a third of the workforce of the world’s largest diamond producers are women. NDC members recognize that the inclusion and participation of women, especially at a senior level, is fundamental, and women empowerment programs have been implemented to advance gender equality.
Natural diamonds are amongst the oldest naturally occurring substances in existence. Formed over three billion years ago, with intense pressure and high temperature deep in the Earth’s mantle, a natural diamond is the epitome of good things coming to those who wait. Their unique chemical composition also means that they can last forever and also remain in vogue due to their eternal sparkle and versatility.
It’s clear: the natural diamond remains straightforward in what it stands for: unique, unadulterated, ethical allure steeped in tradition.
Natural diamonds don’t just exude an aura; they also come with a conscience along with their versatility and timelessness. These beauties are for every generation, occasion, and setting—as heirlooms or memory makers, as style statements, or as friends of the Earth. The Natural Diamond Council is committed to continuing to protect the integrity and reputation of the diamond industry, making a huge, global impact on conscious luxury.
About The Author
Debbie Azar is the Co-Founder and President of Gemological Science International (GSI), one of the largest gemological organizations in the world, and a distinguished leader in the global diamond and jewelry industry. As an executive with extensive knowledge of the jewelry and gem lab industries, her entrepreneurial skills and vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide, establishing 13 leading-edge gemological facilities on four continents. She currently serves on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Responsible Jewellery Council, and Jewelers for Children, and is a member of the 24 Karat Club of New York. She has been featured in Forbes, Daily Mail, Good Morning America, Bloomberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fox Business, Fox5, CBS2, BOLDTV, Varney&Co, The Street, and NASDAQ, among others.