Press Release / June 8, 2004

Survey launched to question diamond industry on conflict diamond pledge

Press Release 4th June, 2004

Survey launched to question diamond industry on conflict diamond pledge

Global Witness announced today the launch of a global survey to pressure diamond jewellery retailers to deliver on their promises to combat the trade in conflict diamonds at the JCK jewellery show in Las Vegas. (1)

This summer, members of several civil society organisations will be visiting and writing to diamond manufacturers, diamond jewellery retailers and jewellery trade associations to ask what actions they have taken to comply with the voluntary system of self-regulation aimed at stopping the trade in diamonds that fuel civil wars and human rights abuses, as agreed in the Kimberley Process. The system of self-regulation requires that all sectors of the diamond industry implement a system of written warranties and a code of conduct to keep conflict diamonds out of the legitimate diamond trade and to support the Kimberley Process. (2) The diamond industry has also committed to educating company employees about the self-regulation so that consumers can be given appropriate assurances that diamonds are conflict free.

Global Witness’ March 2004 report Broken Vows revealed that major players in the US diamond jewellery retail sector, which accounts for over half of global diamond jewellery retail sales, are not adequately carrying out basic measures of the self-regulation. (3) It also showed that the World Diamond Council, the industry body responsible for coordinating industry’s efforts to combat conflict diamonds, has failed to adequately monitor compliance with the self-regulation. The report pressured the World Diamond Council and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses to require its members to report on implementation of the self-regulation by 17 June 2004. (4)

The global survey will evaluate how jewellery retailers are implementing the self-regulation and whether they are able to give consumers valid assurances that diamonds are conflict free. It is vital that governments involved in the Kimberley Process and diamond jewellery consumers know what systems are in place to effectively verify that the diamond industry’s claims of good practice are true.

“As the public face of the industry, diamond jewellery retailers have a special responsibility not just to comply with the self-regulation but also to ensure that their suppliers are in full compliance,” said Alex Yearsley of Global Witness. “Anything less means that diamonds can continue to fuel conflict, human rights abuses and terrorism.”

“The World Diamond Council must play a more proactive role in ensuring effective implementation of the self-regulation- not just by requiring annual reporting but also in developing and promoting a common standard for verifying compliance with the self-regulation.”

Editor Notes:
(1) The JCK Show – Las Vegas 2004 takes place from 3-8 June 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(2) The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is an international governmental certificate scheme aimed at preventing the trade in conflict diamonds. Launched in January 2003, the scheme requires governments and the diamond industry to implement import/export control regimes on rough diamonds to prevent conflict diamonds from fuelling conflicts and human rights abuses. The KPCS was negotiated by governments, civil society organisations and the diamond trade, in response to civil society campaigning against the trade in conflict diamonds.
(3) The report reveals that a range of diamond jewellery retailers in the US, among them international luxury jewellery companies, national department stores, and independent stores are falling short in implementing basic measures of the self-regulation to varying degrees. Since publication of the report, some of the companies have informed Global Witness about their efforts to implement the self-regulation, including Cartier, Saks Fifth Avenue, JC Penney and Fred Meyer Jewelers. Other companies named in the report have still failed to inform Global Witness in writing about their policy on conflict diamonds, including Federated Department Stores (parent company of Bloomingdales and Macy’s), Harry Winston, Van Cleefe & Arpels, Wempe and Whitehall Jewelers. The report also shows that the World Diamond Council has not adequately monitored compliance with the self-regulation. A copy of the report can be found at
(4) Letter dated 17 May 2004 from World Federation of Diamond Bourses to its members to provide information on implementation of the self-regulation.