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Letter To the Editor Regarding Martin Rapaport’s Letter About the New Diamond Age

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by Diamond Foundry

(Press Release) In response to Mr. Rapaport’s recent letter:

We applaud Mr. Rapaport for his call to improve the ethics of diamond digging. His plea for the diamond industry to respond to crises of its own making are spot on. However, his vehement anger and lashing out at Diamond Foundry is not fair and errs by insulting an exemplary actor beloved by the American public and a leading advocate of sustainability.

Mr. Rapaport suggests that lab-grown diamonds contribute nothing toward improving the livelihood of artisanal African diamond diggers and their families. This is a disingenuous argument to the extreme. The plight of diamond miners is the responsibility of those who have most profited from them in the mined diamond business. Diamond diggers have been enslaved in mining for 100 years. Shifting the blame and/or cure to others is not appropriate.

Mr. Rapaport claims that mined diamonds have value because of their “store of value”. The “value” system in natural diamond is of course totally untrue. It is even against the SEC rules to suggest the investment quality of natural diamonds because there is no established secondary market. When you walk out of the stone, the “stored value” goes down 75%. The diamond industry can do better than that. It is time to simply admit the truth that diamonds — 99% of them — are simply a luxury product. This is important because millennial buyers have a good b-s detector. They are constantly on the lookout for ulterior motives and they demand transparency. You can call your diamond ethical or an investment but they know it is not. This is no way to sell product in the future.

The storyline around a supposed scarcity of mined diamonds is walking on thin ice as well. People know it is not true. The mining of diamonds represents mass production unlike any other on Earth. Dig twice as fast and you extract twice the diamonds from a mine. There is no scarcity of mined diamonds other than control of pace of extraction by the diamond cartel. Industrial mining operates at a massive scale. Former Tiffany & Co.’s CEO Michael J. Kowalski says that “few industries in the world have a larger environmental and social footprint than mining.” Even the largest lab-growers are boutique operations in comparison to industrial miners.

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In many ways, lab-grown gem diamonds are the epitome of human scientific achievement. Lab-grown diamonds are a conscious choice of consumers precisely because they aren’t mined from the Earth. By converting greenhouse gases into diamond crystals indistinguishable from mined diamonds — because a diamond is a diamond — a new, eco-friendly alternative is available. The minute differences that only advanced scientific tools can detect are smaller between mined and lab-grown diamonds than they are between mined diamonds from various countries of origin.

There is no basis of fact to assume that lab grown diamonds will be “down at the level of CZ in price or glass crystals…” anytime soon, if ever. Growing diamond crystals the size of a gem in a laboratory is very hard. There is substantive capital expenditure involved for complex semiconductor type equipment. Semiconductor chips have become very inexpensive but due to the higher and higher circuit integration density attained on silicon wafers. The wafers themselves have not been on technology’s Moore curve. By comparison, mined diamonds are free in the ground. If anything, prices for mined diamonds ought to be down to the level of CZ. Diamond mining is plenty profitable as we know.

Finally, it is the Rapaport report itself which has been a major cause of trouble for the diamond industry. For one, it is surprising that the price collusion it implies has not been declared illegal yet. In any case it has detached pricing from the market.

As a creator of lab-grown gems, we are seeking to set a new standard on ethics, transparency, and social responsibility in the diamond industry. This is a much needed opportunity for the entire diamond industry which has not been doing so well lately. In any well-run business, when things have not been going well for some time, it is about time for innovative ideas and new leaders.

We are pleased by the amount of interest we’ve been receiving from customers around the world. Quite clearly, lab-grown diamonds present a choice that is very attractive. We look forward to making the diamond industry fruitful for the entire distribution channel once again.

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Press Releases

CIBJO Releases Marketing & Education Special Report, Analyzes Next Great Jewelry-Buying Generation

Report returns to what has been defined as the next great jewelry-consuming group, Generation Z.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MILAN, ITALY — With fewer than 10 weeks to go to the opening of the 2019 CIBJO Congress in Manama, Bahrain, on November 18, 2019, the first of the CIBJO commissions’ Special Reports has been released. Prepared by the CIBJO Marketing & Education Commission, headed by Jonathan Kendall, the report returns to what has been defined as the next great jewelry-consuming group, Generation Z, providing a breakdown of what the industry needs to consider if it is to ensure that jewelry remains a favored purchase.

Generation Z refers to young consumers, who currently are 15 to 25 years of age.

“Gen Z is coming to our markets very soon if it has not already arrived in reality,” writes Mr. Kendall. “Its members are forecast to spend a whopping $143 billion this year alone. So we better get them on our side if we want to enjoy a rosy future. In fact, the future success of the jewelry industry will depend on our understanding the needs and wants of Generation Z. Get this right and we can all look forward to strong profitable years moving forward. Get it wrong and we could be destined for the scrap heap – not overnight maybe, but ultimately.”

Communicating predominantly via the social media, studies show that Generation Z is more environmentally conscious and gender neutral than any generation that preceded it. It celebrates authenticity, diversity and human imperfection. It is more likely to heed the advice of a friend, rather than a celebrity.

“Gen Z is prepared to splurge but it must be worth it. The more added value the better, and that can come from its environmental credentials or its social value,” notes Mr. Kendall.

To download a full copy of the CIBJO Market & Education Commission’s special report, click here.

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Press Releases

Gem Legacy Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary

It launched in September 2018.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ROYAL OAK, MI – Gem Legacy is celebrating the successes of its 1 year anniversary after launching in September 2018 by founder Roger Dery. Gem Legacy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit supporting education, vocational training, and local economies in East African colored gemstone mining communities.

The first year has boasted many successes, thanks to industry partners and donors. Roger Dery, founder and executive director of Gem Legacy looks back on the first year: “Lives are deeply affected because we’re ensuring that a group of widowed miners will find Tsavorite Garnet, 28 orphans will get a full education, kids are getting full nights of sleep on new mattresses, and young adults are entering the gem industry with knowledge in gemology and gem faceting. They have hope because we, the jewelry industry, are saying ‘we see you and we believe in you.’”

Other highlights from Gem Legacy’s first year include the formation of its advisory board (Christina Clover-Field, Ben Smithee, and Monica Stephenson) and its Leadership Council (Omi Gems and Parle Jewelry Designs). The leadership council is growing to be a consortium of the industry’s top leaders dedicated to sharing Gem Legacy’s mission and activating a united industry-wide effort to support the mining communities in Africa.

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Press Releases

Technological Solutions for Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing Spotlighted at CIBJO-IEG Seminar

Seminar marked the 10th year of cooperation between CIBJO and IEG.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MILAN, ITALY — With members of the jewelry and gemstone sectors under growing pressure to actively demonstrate that they are conducting their businesses in a sustainable manner, including verifying that the items they purchase, process and sell have been sourced responsibly, a range of technological solutions are currently being developed to help them comply with the due diligence requirements. These came under the spotlight during a seminar on September 9, 2019, at the VICENZAORO show in Vicenza, Italy, organized by CIBJO and hosted by the Italian Exhibition Group (IEG).

The seminar was the latest edition in a series of educational programs organized by the two bodies, which is endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to support corporate social responsibility and sustainability in the jewelry sector. As Marco Carniello, director of IEG’s jewelry and fashion division pointed out, the seminar this September marked the 10th year of cooperation between CIBJO and Italy’s leading jewelry trade show organizer.

A growing percentage of the jewelry, gemstone and precious metals industries have taken steps in recent years to implement sustainable and responsible sourcing principles in their businesses, with more than 1,300 worldwide already certified by compliance organizations, after undergoing monitoring by independent auditors. But in an industry that is dominated by small and medium-sized companies, many participants find it challenging to follow suit and consequently could experience difficulty in gaining access to chains of supply. The technologies discussed at the seminar are largely being developed to address these challenges.

“CIBJO is committed to the development of an ethical and sustainable jewelry industry, which sources its raw materials in both a responsible and transparent manner,” said CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri, opening the seminar. “As we reiterated in the new Responsible Sourcing Blue Book which was approved earlier this year, we believe that all participants should do due diligence to the best of their ability. At the same time, we also insist that no ethical members of our community be discriminated against because they currently lack the resources necessary to implement a full compliance system. It is for this reason that we view the development of technological solutions as being so important.”

The panel of speakers, which was moderated by Erik Jens, vice president of CIBJO’s Responsible Sourcing Commission, represented a cross section of this growing industry service sector, providing solutions to industry participants at all stages of the chain of distribution, from the mine to the retailer.

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