WDC’s 2020 AGM focuses on the latest KP developments and industry’s efforts to source responsibly, despite pandemic
WDC’s 2020 AGM focuses on the latest KP developments
and industry’s efforts to source responsibly, despite pandemic
OCTOBER 26, 2020
ABOVE: Participants during the virtual 2020 WDC Annual General Meeting, clockwise from top, center: David Prager, Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Group; Edahn Golan, industry analyst and the panel moderator; Ronnie Vanderlinden, WDC Treasurer; Elodie Daguzan, WDC Executive Director; and Edward Asscher WDC President.
Members of the World Diamond Council assembled for the organization’s Annual General Meeting on October 19, 2020, joined by invited guests, among them representatives of the governments involved in the Kimberley Process and members of civil society. In contrast to previous WDC AGMs, this gathering was not held in person but rather by videoconference, a consequence of the many travel restrictions in place worldwide because of the COVID-19 health crisis.
The new format of the AGM allowed for an abbreviated 90-minute session, comprised of a keynote address by David Prager, Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs at the De Beers Group, on the industry’s role to meet the expectations of the changing consumer, and a panel discussion led by Edahn Golan, a noted industry analyst, with Mr. Prager and Mr. Asscher, the WDC President. It was followed by the more formal AGM agenda, with reports by the WDC President, WDC Executive Director Elodie Daguzan and WDC Treasurer Ronnie Vanderlinden.
The dominant theme of the 2020 AGM was the industry’s obligation to maintain and grow consumer confidence in the sector. It focused on the critical role that institutional organizations like the KP and the WDC, through its System of Warranties, have in providing a backbone to this mission, particularly in a market that is being fundamentally impacted by the global pandemic. In his report to the AGM, Mr. Asscher spoke about the act of gifting a natural diamond as a symbol of love and appreciation for those who are closest to you. This is due to the emotional connection of consumers to diamonds, and it is a connection that is underpinned by trust.
“Today’s consumers understand very well that loving relationships are so important in these difficult times,” the WDC President said. “Diamonds are still considered symbols of loving relationships but now consumers all over the world are asking for more. The key words today are sustainability, ethically sourced diamonds, and proof of respect for human rights. The WDC is key to setting those conditions, together with the KP member governments and the NGOs.”
This sentiment was underscored in his keynote address by Mr. Prager. Recent developments, he said, “…have reinforced the importance of brands not only to take a stand, but for brands to take action. It can be demonstrated today that being a brand is more than just selling a product that consumers want. It is also about understanding what matters to those consumers and how your brands align with their values in a meaningful way.”
Research today […]
YOUNG DIAMANTAIRES LOOK TO CREATE
A DIAMOND-POWERED RENAISSANCE
Students in class at the Renaissance Secondary School in Musina, South Africa. The school, which serves an underprivileged area in the mining town, is now being supported by the Young Diamantaires, a group established by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), a WDC member. (Photo courtesy of De Beers)
In 2016, Rami Baron was sitting in a board meeting of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), when he realized that, other than himself, everyone in the room was in their 60s or 70s.
“I thought to myself, ‘We need to get more young people into the conversation,’” recalled Baron, a member of the WFDB’s Executive Committee, Chair of the organization’s Promotions Committee and President of the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia. “We need to open the door to the new generation.”
Thus was created the Young Diamantaires forum. Launched by the WFDB in 2016 at the 37th World Diamond Congress in Dubai, it started out as a Whatsapp chat group with 11 participants, but it quickly morphed into a global network with more 300 young professionals. Almost all are under the age of 45, although Baron, who is 56, remains very much involved. They come from different cultures and backgrounds, but share a common interest in diamonds as their primary source of income.
The original objective of the group was to establish a movement within the international diamond trade that would replenish and sustain the future and leadership of the business community. But an invitation extended by De Beers in 2019 to the Young Diamantaires to visit the Venetia Mine in South Africa’s Limpopo Province had the effect of broadening the group’s perspective and areas of activity.
Twenty-five members of the Young Diamantaires took De Beers up on its offer, traveling to South Africa in November of last year. Coming from 10 countries, their purpose was to gain a better understanding of the mining process, but also to witness first-hand the positive impacts natural diamonds have on the surrounding communities, and the investments being made by the mining sector in preserving the environment.
“The more we saw, the more we were amazed,” said YD member David Troostwyk. “But, at the same time, we appreciated a great deal still needs to be done.”
Young Diamantaires founder Rami Baron (left), together with Mashudu Lazarus Sithole, principal of the Renaissance Secondary School, during the visit to Musina in September 2019. (Photo courtesy of De Beers)
One of the stops on their trip was at the Renaissance Secondary School in Musina, the northernmost town in Limpopo, which is located close to the border separating South Africa and Zimbabwe. With a population of about 40,000, many of its residents are employed in the many mines that surround it, among them Venetia.
The Renaissance Secondary School is one of 19 schools built with funding from […]
“Women of the Diamond Industry” focuses on the issue of gender equality along the entire diamond and jewelry supply chain. The series provides a platform for women in the industry to tell their own story and describe the particular challenges they have faced in their careers.
The third article in the series is authored by Polina Proksheva, a geophysicist employed by ALROSA, the Russian diamond mining company.
DREAMING BIG AND MAKING IT HAPPEN
AT 30 DEGREES BELOW CELSIUS
Polina Proksheva out in the field in Yakutia. Two years after graduating from the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the Ural State Mining University in Yekaterinburg, she is now a member of ALROSA’s Vilui exploration expedition.
Most regard mining as an archetypal masculine vocation, but things are not necessarily as one would expect. The Russian diamond mining industry boasts a uniquely feminine gender heritage, with the Zarnitsa pipe, the first ever primary diamond deposit developed in the Soviet Union, having been discovered in 1954 by the two women geologists – Natalya Sarsadskikh and Larisa Popugayeva.
In fact, since Russian diamonds first made their way into world markets some 60 years ago, the tradition of women in its industry’s geological service has always been preserved. Many continue to join the profession in pursuit of their own diamond dream. This is my story.
I am a geophysicist employed by ALROSA, the Russian diamond producer. Twenty-four years of age, I graduated two years ago from the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the Ural State Mining University in Yekaterinburg, in western Siberia. As the crow flies, that is almost 3,000 kilometers from the city in Yakutia in which I now live and work, the so-called Russian diamond capital of Mirny.
It could be said that I chose my profession because it sounded glamorous. In Russian the word for both “exploration” and “secret service” is “razvedka.” The name of the specialization caught my attention at university, and I imagined myself as a special agent wearing sunglasses. It was only later that I came to realize it involved not espionage, but the exploration of minerals, precious metals and gemstones.
To pursue my profession, I needed to travel far from the place with which I was familiar. But I was very lucky to have my best friend and a few other former classmates moving from Yekaterinburg to Mirny together with me. With them by my side, moving to a new place was not that stressful. Our cozy hostel also helped, and it didn’t take long before the other people living there, who it turned out were both sociable and understanding, had become good friends.
Polina Proksheva at her desk in Mirny. She gathers and then processes data from aeromagnetic surveys, looking for geological anomalies that could indicate diamond deposits.
Yekaterinburg has chilly winters, but nothing compared to Mirny, where the […]
ALTHOUGH FALSE KP CERTIFICATES ARE RARE,
INDUSTRY CAUTION IS STILL RECOMMENDED
Mark Van Bockstael
By Mark Van Bockstael
Chair, KP Working Group of Diamond Experts
Chairman, WDC Technical Committee
Several times a year, with uncanny regularity, the international diamond trade receives alerts from the Kimberley Process (KP) about yet another false certificate that has been encountered, and for which it is asked to practice enhanced vigilance. Together with the mostly negative media coverage such news generates, many diamantaires wonder whether the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is still functional, remaining capable of delivering on the mandate that KP received from the United Nations in 2000, of breaking the link between armed conflict and the diamond trade.
How gloomy this all may seem. But the truth is that the KPCS is still very much alive and effective. The occasional alert that is issued is real, but is not really indicative of the overwhelming majority of legitimate KP certificates.
A few figures will clarify this statement:
- The official KP website shows that seven alerts about false KP certificates were broadcast in 2015, out of a total of 53,738 KP certificates issued worldwide. This represents a rate of just 0.013 percent.
- The same KP website shows 16 alerts each for false KP certificates in 2016, 2017 and 2018 on total issued of 61,793, 70,278 and 64,097 respectively. These compute into rates of 0.026 percent; 0.023 percent and 0.025 percent respectively.
- For the most recent year on record, 2019, the KP website shows that there were seven alerts out of a total of 52,443 KP certificates issued, corresponding to a rate of 0.013 percent.
Clearly, these are very good results. But are they reflective of reality? Some may argue that the low numbers could be the result of very lax oversight, and what we are seeing is akin to the tip of the iceberg. But this is unlikely. The chances are that what the KP reports is pretty close to the truth.
How is it that we are are so confident? What is the mechanism that makes it possible to find the proverbial needle in the haystack – identifying the few false certificates from the giant stack of bonafide ones?
The trick that the KP has up its sleeve is Import Confirmation. It makes all the difference. Every KP certificate accompanying an imported rough diamond shipment from any KP Participant-country must be reported back to the KP authority that issued it at the point of export. Import confirmation is a KP minimum requirement that must be performed at all times.
For this particular purpose, most KP Participant-countries include an especially designed import confirmation section on their outgoing KP certificates. All the importing KP authority then needs to do is check that the contents of the shipment and the KP certificate match, detach the Import Confirmation section from the KP certificate, stamp and countersign it, and then send it back to the issuer.
This way, a closed loop is created between […]
MARKING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF A YEAR
THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY
ABOVE: Kimberley (left), the northwestern South African city closely associated with the diamond mining industry, which was the location of the founding of the Kimberley Process in May 2000, and Antwerp (right), the venue of the World Diamond Congress in July 2000, at which was established the World Diamond Council.
The year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of two seminal events in the history of the diamond industry, both of them associated to the campaign to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds. The first was the founding of the Kimberley Process (KP), the coalition of governments, industry and civil society that gave birth to Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPSC) and since then has overseen its operation. The second was the establishment of the World Diamond Council, which became the industry representative in the KP, taking upon itself the task of securing the trade in conflict-free diamonds in the rough diamond, polished diamond and diamond jewelry sectors.
In May 2000, at the height of the conflict diamond crisis, members of the industry joined representatives of various governments and civil society in Kimberley, South Africa. There, for the first time, a proposal was discussed to establish an international certification system for rough diamonds, as a means of ensuring the conflict-free status of the goods in the distribution chain.
The two-day meeting is today recognized as birth of the KP. The city in which it took place, which some 130 years earlier had been site of the largest diamond rush in history, provided the name of the permanent forum that was created, with governments becoming full voting Participants, and industry and civil society joining as Observers.
Two months later, in July 2000 at the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp, Belgium, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), passed a joint resolution to create an association that would represent the industry in the campaign to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds. They were joined soon after by CIBJO, the World Jewelry Confederation. This was the birth of the WDC.
At an inter-governmental conference in London in October 2000, the nascent KP forum was presented with a paper entitled the “WDC System for International Rough Diamond Export & Import Controls.” A decision was made to forward it for discussion at the United Nations General Assembly. On December 1, the international body passed a resolution that became the framework for a global certification system.
The KPCS was launched on January 1, 2003, after all member governments around the world had passed the legislation or regulations necessary to implement and enforce the system in their own territories. But already before then, in 2002, the WDC had introduced the System of Warranties, designed to extend the effectiveness of the KPCS beyond the rough diamond trade, through the polished diamond and diamond jewelry sectors. […]
2020, THE YEAR IN WHICH EVERYTHING CHANGED
Dear members and friends,
It’s that time of the year again. The WDC Annual General Meeting is just around the corner, on Monday, October 19, 2020, and so much has changed since last year, both personally and collectively.
If I quickly look back to October 2019, I was still working at the offices of my former employer, Rubel & Ménasché, in the heart of Paris’ exclusive jewelry district. At the time I represented them in the WDC, and also in the Young Diamantaires’ group, which I will shortly mention.
Fast forward 12 months, which seem like several years already, and like so many others I am working from home. But now I represent WDC, and in my new capacity I will be delighted to be a host of the first-ever virtual WDC AGM.
By nature, I tend to see the best in every situation, but I admit I will miss meeting our members in person. At the same time, I realize that this new format will allow us to welcome more guests, and for that I am grateful.
As always, the AGM provides an opportunity for us to report on our activities to the WDC membership. The event this year also will feature a discussion, with guests David Prager, Vice President, Corporate Affair of the De Beers Group, and the renowned industry analyst Edahn Golan. The subject on the card is “meeting the expectations of a changing consumer.”
This latest edition of the WDC News Update tackles a variety of subjects, one of which is a milestone, for 2020 represents the 20th anniversary of the founding of both the Kimberley Process and the World Diamond Council. We pay tribute to those events, both of which were referred to by the WDC President Edward Asscher, when he addressed the 2020 World Diamond Congress, on September 14. That occasion itself was significant, for it was at the 2000 World Diamond Congress in Antwerp that the decision was made to establish the WDC.
This edition also examines a subject of particular importance to the Kimberley Process, and that is fraudulent certificates. We do so with the expert help of Mark Van Bockstael, who almost certainly is the world’s leading authority on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Once again serving as Chair of the KP’s Working Group of Diamond Experts, as well as being Chair of the WDC Technical Committee, Mark has been associated with the KP since it was founded, and indeed before then, being among the forum’s original and most influential architects.
The newsletter introduces us to Polina Proksheva, a junior geologist at ALROSA, who shares her experiences and her life as a young woman working in the diamond mining industry in Yakutia, about 4,400 kilometers east of Moscow. I can relate to the passion that Polina brings to her work and mission, and to the feeling of community she has with her colleagues. Every woman we bring to you is from a very […]
With the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the imposition of lockdowns in most countries, the WDC called on its members to contribute blogs describing that they were experiencing in their own organizations and households, and how they viewed the impact of the global pandemic.
Our huge trading hall, which is usually teeming with activity, is now fairly empty because of restrictions that allow only 100 people access at a time. Who would have imagined a diamond exchange with no handshakes to seal transactions?Almost four months ago, when the coronavirus broke out, I found myself having to manage the worst crisis the Israel Diamond Exchange has ever known. The challenge was massive and I approached it with great apprehension – to safeguard the health of the community, which includes more than 3,200 members and some 8,000 small and medium-sized business owners, and the health of the industry that is so dear to us all.
The economic crisis that struck in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted in unprecedented ways on China’s jewelry retail markets and their supply chains. This was self-evident from the data collected at the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE), where we saw polished imports through SDE into China decline by 70 percent during the first four months of 2020. But, with much of the lockdown now lifted, we are seeing businesses springing back. Many have returned to full operation and Chinese consumers are coming back to the shopping malls. We expect to see trade and the market gradually ramp up in the coming months.
More than four months and counting. My last trip abroad was in January. It was to the United States, where I visited New York City and Miami. I remember watching the TV news and hearing about an unusual flu-like virus that had been detected in Wuhan, and later talking about it with my staff in the Far East. At the time, I recall thinking: “Another SARS, far away in China. Just ignore it, stick to your agenda and it will go away soon.”
We are almost halfway through what has been an unexpected and turbulent start to the year. While tens of millions remain in lockdown, others are slowly easing their way back into a “normal” rhythm, albeit at a slow and careful pace. I am proud to say that here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), we are among the latter category.
JEWELRY COMPANY’S CENTENNIAL COMMITMENT
LOOKS TO ADDRESS MEGA-CHALLENGES OF RESOURCE SCARCITY,
AND CLIMATE, DEMOGRAPHIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Chow Tai Fook donated three ambulances to hospitals and clinics in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic, which is a city where the company operates extensive manufacturing and logistics facilities.
A long-time member of the World Diamond Council, the Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group is one of the world’s largest jewelry companies, with a workforce of about 30,000. It operates more than 3,800 stores in about 500 cities, in greater China, Japan, Korea, other Southeast Asian countries and the United States. It also has a fast-growing e-commerce business. The firm was founded in Guangzhou in 1929 by Chow Chi-Yuen.
Not only a pioneer in the growth of the fine jewelry markets in Asia, and mainland China in particular, the Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group has also been committed to the development, implementation and promotion of responsible business practices.
As the company approaches the 100th year since its founding, it has announced what it refers to as its Centennial Commitment. The company’s Chairman, Dr. Henry Cheng Kar-Sun explained the approach in a detailed Sustainability Report, which was released in June 2020. “The new initiatives in our four priority areas – responsible sourcing; craftsmanship, innovation and technology; resource efficiency and carbon reduction; and people focused – enable us to face the megatrends of resource scarcity, technological breakthroughs, climate change, and demographic and social change, all of which, in their various ways, will have a disruptive effect on our industry,” he wrote.
The wastewater treatment system at Chow Tai Fook’s production hub in Shunde which is able to process up to 300 tons of wastewater per day. The company makes an effort to use the treated water in its manufacturing processes.
Environmental sustainability is a is a key element of the program, with Chow Tai Fook pledging to reduce its ecological footprint by at least 15 percent by 2029. This includes substantially cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste generation, as well as obtaining ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification for the environmental management systems in all its mainland China production hubs – in Shenzhen, Shunde and Wuhan.
There have been few disruptive events that match the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Soon after its scale became apparent, the company set up an in-house facemask production line, using the high-standard dust-free cleanroom technology at its production hub in Shunde to produce some 100,000 facemasks per day. These were distributed both to employees and to other communities in need.
The company also initiated a charity sale campaign in mainland China to support medical professionals, and donated three ambulances to hospitals and clinics in Wuhan, where the pandemic first struck and where Chow Tai Fook operates a large production and logistics facility.
In 2012 the Chow […]