April 22, 2021 – Do you recall the concerns that sparked the industry when the filling of feathers in diamonds, the “Yehuda treatment,” was revealed to the industry? How about the panic wave that hit the industry when HPHT (High Pressure, High Temperature) diamonds came into the market? The discussions, arguments, and occasional mudslinging that followed those events showed us that our great industry does not easily adapt to change and innovation. Eventually, however, we do come around.
I was reminded of these – passing – events after reading Rob Bates’ article “More thoughts on lab-grown diamonds and ethics,” which he published on JCK’s website earlier this month. In this article, he describes how the Diamond Foundry, a well-known lab-grown diamond producer, chose to bad-mouth the diamond industry in response to the National Advertising Division’s (NAD) slap on the wrist, following the company’s advertising practices which were found to be faulty. Bates then continues, trying to deconstruct the pointless contests and power plays many lab-grown companies have been having, attempting to prove they and their products are greener, more ethical, and generally better than the diamond industry.
Bates concludes his article as follows: “Sourcing raw materials is complicated. No one expects perfection. No one even expects greatness. But consumers expect honesty, transparency, and continuous improvement—and that means not just being better than your competitor but being better than you were last year. This is particularly true if you bill yourself as a ‘sustainable,’ ‘ethical,‘ or ‘transparent‘ company. When you’re busy pointing out other people’s flaws, you often don’t see your own. Yes, there are plenty of bad actors in the industry. They bring the entire trade down. The way to raise it up is to set your own bar higher.“
I couldn’t agree more. We have more than a handful of bad actors that cause trouble for the rest of us, and we need to do our part to call them out for the benefit of our entire industry.
For me, the past year has been a time to reflect on how we can continue to raise our industry’s bar even higher. Our industry’s international leadership needs now, more than ever, to come together and tackle the challenges that the diamond industry and trade face today and tomorrow.
Here in the US, this is precisely what we did a few years ago when we created the US Jewelry Council (USJC). We knew we were better represented to work with government(s) and others as one voice representing our collective memberships when the issue concerned all of us. Speaking with a single voice has proven to be highly beneficial.
We all realize we now live in the “Next Normal,” at a time that anything we took for granted in the past cannot be taken for granted now. Consumer demand for products that prove their sustainability, traceability, and accountability is rising faster than ever around the globe. These developments are affecting the entire global diamond supply chain, too! I suspect that in the coming months and years, our industry will see many challenges presented by consumers coming at us fast. It won’t be easy to face these challenges on our own.
Food for thought!