This new technology could be the worst enemy for blood diamonds

Illegal diamond miners.image

Sooner than you think, you will be able to learn where a diamond really comes from, its measurements, grading and other key information by simply using a smartphone, as two companies have partnered to bring near field communication (NFC) — best known for enabling mobile payments — into the diamond industry.

Thinfilm, which prints NFC tags, and Sarine Technologies, which develops technologies for diamonds and gemstones, said Tuesday they are working together to empower jewellers and consumers by increasing transparency in the diamond retail.

Applying near field communication, or NFC, smartphone users can learn a diamond’s history, measurements, grading and other key information.Thinfilm will produce NFC tags that show a smartphone user the profiles of individual diamonds. They will be printed on paper sold with diamonds wholesale or eventually on tags attached to rings in stores.

The technology could ease the work began in 2003 by the Kimberly Process, an international organization that oversees the diamond trade, and which goal is to eliminate from the market all blood diamonds—stones that fuel violent conflicts through their sale.

Currently, The KP works through a so-called “system of warranties,” whereby every government must provide a written guarantee that their diamonds are not involved in funding any conflict. The 81 participating countries, which account for roughly 99% of the world diamond trade, also only deal with each other.

However, the system is not exempt of fraud and fake certificates have been often found attached to diamonds sold in global markets. This, as the a Kimberley Process certificate does not apply to an individual diamond but to a group of rough stones which are then cut and shipped around the world. Without a tracking system, this is where the trail currently ends.


Henry Sapiecha

$6m diamond goes missing during labour dispute

Ekati Spirit sold for $6m in 2011. Image BHP Billiton

The Ekati Spirit was sold by BHP Billiton in 2011 and at the time described as “the most valuable stone in the mine’s 13-year history.” BHP has since exited the diamond business.

The Namibian government is in the process of changing its arrangement with Namdeb and NDTC and could set up its own selling organization.

Namdeb, the second largest employer in Namibia, sends the bulk of its production to De Beers sorting facilities in neighbouring Botswana, the world’s number one diamond producer, where it is mixed with other De Beers stones.

After that, only 10% of the total sent is returned to Namibia, where they are sold through NDTC.

Namibia has the richest known marine diamond deposits in the world, estimated at more than 80 million carats.

They represent approximately 64% of Namdeb’s total diamond production of 1.8 million carats and 90% of its diamond resources.

Police in Namibia are hunting for a 78-carat diamond after the gem went missing during a recent strike by 1,500 workers of the Namibia Diamond

NDTC, like the mining firm Namdeb, is a 50-50 joint venture between Anglo American’s De Beers unit and the Namibian government with a history dating back to the 1920s.

Bloomberg reports the value of the stone will “depend on the quality and size of the polished stones that can be cut from it,” but points to a 78-carat diamond mined from the Ekati mine in Canada’s north which sold for $6 million.

Henry Sapiecha

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Blood diamonds still a problem from hell it seems

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More than ten years after the creation of The Kimberley Process, a certification scheme established to prevent illegally mined diamonds from filtering into the market and fuel armed conflicts, the problem is far from being over.

Only last week, Cameroon and Chad agreed to tighten border security to halt the illegal flow of these so-called “conflict” or “blood” diamonds, which are said to be sponsoring armed groups in neighbouring Central African Republic.

While Peter Meeus, Chairman of Dubai Diamond Exchange says diamonds are the most strictly checked raw materials in the world, there is a certain amount of illegally traded gems that make it into the market.

Henry Sapiecha

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‘Blood diamond’ monitoring to retain focus on conflict-torn regions

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The newly elected president of the World Diamond Council, Edward Asscher, put a chill Tuesday on the movement to expand the scope of the Kimberley Process and so cover general human rights abuses, stating the trade body should focus exclusively  on diamonds proceeding from conflict zones.

Speaking at the Intercessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process In Shanghai, Asscher said he supported increasing the scope of a global monitoring of the trade in rough diamonds to counter all forms of organized violence, not only those associated with civil wars. However, he drew a line at “other social and humanitarian challenges”, saying this task should be left to other industry actors.

Currently the KP only addresses diamonds produced in areas controlled by rebel militias. It doesn’t take into consideration violence committed by governments.

Poster for campaign in France, highlighting the costs of conflict diamonds image

“The implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in 2003 saved many lives,” he said in his speech. “Its effectiveness inspired further confidence in our product, the diamond.”

KP only addresses diamonds produced in areas controlled by rebel militias. It doesn’t take into consideration violence committed by governments.

Henry Sapiecha

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