Ya'akov Almor (photo1) 300dpi

Ya'akov Almor

IDMA Communications Director

On the fringes of our awareness

September 12, 2021 – From edition to edition of IDMA’s WINC, the – almost – Weekly Internet News Collection offered to you by the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, I spent numerous hours finding, reading, and ranking news and information that is relevant and of interest to our members and members of the diamond industry at large.

Seated behind my keyboard and two 32-inch LED screens, I run through hundreds of websites that include the major news agencies, national and international newspapers, and of course, almost all the websites of the services and publications that supply our industry – the diamond, gem and jewelry trade – with news. It’s a lot of work, but I like doing it, and it has become second nature to me.

Most of the news I read never makes it into the WINC. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is not interesting or relevant. After all, the filters applied by my search engines are defined well enough, and there is almost always a link to our industry. Choices, choices, choices.

However, since the pandemic became a constant in our lives, my search engines began feeding me more and more information that would not have come through the filters before. Most of this information covered topics that only a year and a half ago remained in the periphery of our field of vision and, therefore, on the fringes of our awareness.

What are these topics? And why did they move into the center of our field of vision so that we can no longer ignore them?

Basically, these topics were discussed in webinars organized by the leading fashion platform Business of Fashion (BoF), the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, and to a certain extent by various industry publications. Many of these webinars ran during the earlier stages of the pandemic, when many of us were stuck at home, in lockdown, or even in quarantine.

BoF led the way with webinars about workers’ rights in the global garment industry, equality (women, people of color) on the work floor in fashion design houses, the environment and the case for circularity of the fashion industry, and the need for an organized second-hand clothing market, to name just a few. Soon after, the RJC and CIBJO picked up on these issues and began their webinars with similar themes relevant to our industry and trade. We saw identical developments taking place on platforms in the global luxury industry.

The pandemic – the Next Normal or the “New Constant” – has pushed all of us out of our comfort zones and forced us to look at our changing world with fresh eyes. In this Next Normal, some now will interpret the phrase “the world is a global village” as a threat to our health, economy, and security, while just 20 months ago, it was a phrase that indicated a world of wonder and opportunity. In a way, the pandemic has upset our orderly world and transformed our world order and view.

Looking at the world’s economy and politics, can we point at events that were triggered or accelerated, at least in part, by the pandemic? In the fashion industry, the scandal surrounding cotton production in the Chinese province of Xinjiang has led to accusations aimed at the Chinese government concerning its use of large-scale forced labor and the creation of the Xinjiang internment camps. Consequently, leading fashion brands such as H&M, Nike, Adidas, and Burberry resolved to stop using this tainted cotton source, causing these firms significant market share losses in the Chinese consumer market.

Would these companies have taken this route before the pandemic?

Looking at our much smaller industry, can we expect to witness rapid solutions to similar, long-lingering issues in the precious metals and diamond mining industry, particularly in several African countries? Will the relevant governments finally come around and give the KP and NGOs the teeth they need?

I was heartened to see that the cover story of this week’s Asian edition of The Economist examines why it is that nations in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa fail women. “Places that oppress girls and women are far more likely to be violent and unstable. All of the 20 most fragile states in the world practice polygamy, including Guinea, where a coup took place on September 5th. In many regions, selective abortions lead to skewed sex ratios and a dangerous surplus of young single men. Societies based on male kinship groups tend to subjugate women through unequal inheritance rights, child marriage and more. Geopolitics should not be viewed solely through a feminist lens, any more than it should be viewed solely in terms of economics or nuclear non-proliferation. But policymakers who ignore half the population cannot hope to understand the world,” the publication’s Editor-In-Chief, (Ms) Zanny Minton Beddoes, wrote.

Would women’s rights have made the cover of The Economist before the pandemic?

The – too often quoted – Chinese saying “May you live in interesting times” is subject to interpretation. One thing is sure: this is a time of high expectations.

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