INTERVIEW: Diamond Producers Association chief exec on the need for a diamond terminology guideline

Nine leading diamond industry organisations have joined forces to produce a diamond terminology guideline to help encourage full, fair and effective use of a clear and accessible definition for diamonds, synthetics diamonds and imitations of diamonds by all sector bodies, organisations and traders.

Together with leading diamond industry organisations (AWDC, CIBJO, DPA, GJEPC, IDI, IDMA, WDC and WFDB), the National Association of Jewellers has launched the ‘Diamond Terminology Guideline’ into the UK market, which serves as a reference document for the jewellery trade when referring to diamonds and synthetic diamonds.

It is built on two internationally accepted standards: the ISO 18323 Standard (“Jewellery – Consumer confidence in the diamond industry”) and the CIBJO Diamond Blue Book.

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Here, the chief executive officer of the Diamond Producers Associations, Jean-Marc Lieberherr, reveals why it’s time to clarify diamond terminology.

Why do you believe the guideline is important?
Synthetic diamonds are a new category in jewellery; up until recently they were only used in industrial applications. Synthetic diamonds are not real diamonds, but they are not simulants either; this creates potential for confusion. We need to use clear language to make sure consumers know that what they are buying is what they think they are buying. Some synthetic diamond manufacturers have introduced new terms that aim to conceal the origin of their product, such as ‘cultured’, ‘cultivated’ or ‘above-ground’.  Some also claim that their products are ‘real diamonds’. This is causing confusion for consumers. We believe it is important to go back to the basics. There is an international ISO Standard and an industry-wide standard with the Blue Book. These are clear and consistent when it comes to diamond terminologies. The Diamond Terminology Guideline, developed by all the leading international jewellery organisations and the National Association of Jewellers, serves to remind the trade of the terminology and the need to uphold them to maintain consumer confidence. We believe that a unified language will benefit everyone, consumers and retailers alike, whatever the choice they make with regards to buying or selling synthetic diamonds.

Did any changes in the market prompt you to launch the terminology guideline this year?
Our research shows that consumers are confused about what is what, which has a negative impact on their overall confidence and trust when it comes to buying a diamond, or any piece of jewellery. This is why we initiated this collaboration with all major jewellery industry organisations; to promote alignment of terminology and usage of clear language. The Diamond Terminology Guideline has been rolled out in the US and India; followed by the UK, France, and China. There is a great demand for standardised terminology, and we work with local key organisations, such as the National Association of Jewellers, to finalise the local version and distribute it widely.

How will an industry-wide understanding of these diamond terminologies benefit businesses?
Clear and accessible language is an essential component for consumers to make informed purchase decisions. Informed consumers that can distinguish between different product categories have confidence to make more purchases. Trust and integrity is paramount to the jewellery industry.

How do you think consumers feel about buying diamonds at a time where ethics are being questioned and synthetics are increasingly being promoted?
Overall consumers continue to feel good about buying diamonds. 2017 was a very good year globally for diamonds and 2018 is off to a good start. Of course, the industry is facing challenges and maintaining consumer confidence in our product and our industry is one of them. When it comes to ethics, we have had lots of success communicating to consumers how our industry today is not what it was 15 years ago. The Kimberley Process, the Responsible Jewellery Council, financial transparency, ‘know your customer’ principles, supply chain due diligence programmes by main upstream and downstream players, have all been successfully established. Our industry is under huge scrutiny and is one of the most regulated in the world. Of course, not everything is perfect. Just like other industries such as textile, coffee, or for that matter other metals and minerals which rely in part on the artisanal mining sector — we have a long way to go. However, great progress is being done, and continues to be done, and this is what consumers expect of us. We also remind them that the diamond industry is a huge ecosystem touching ten million lives in some of the most disadvantaged regions of the world; in Africa and India principally. Diamonds are an important factor of development and an important resource. Consumers also better understand how industrial mining companies work closely with local government and communities to ensure that diamond mining has a positive lasting impact on the communities and minimises its environmental footprint. Some leading mining companies have started working on the development carbon-neutral mines and made good progress. Our industry cares about the environment and about people, and we know there is no other way to operate today. The emergence of synthetic diamonds is a great opportunity for us to tell our story: that of a billion years old, natural, precious stone, inherently valuable, which makes significant contributions to entire communities.

VIEW THE GUIDELINE HERE

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