The Jewelers of America (JA), the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America (DMIA), the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) and other U.S. jewelry associations and companies have jointly developed and launched a new voluntary approach intended to strengthen the ethical sourcing and management of both rough and diamonds as they move through the diamond pipeline. The new Diamond Source Warranty Protocol aims to help individual businesses work toward a higher level of assurance and control by excluding diamonds from questionable sources, as determined by them.
"There is increased pressure in certain markets, including the United States - from the public, human rights groups and government - to bring greater transparency and accountability to the supply chains of jewelry and other products," says Matthew A. Runci, President and CEO of Jewelers of America. "The new Diamond Source Warranty Protocol is designed to be an effective tool to help businesses manage these issues and challenges in the context of their relationships with business partners and stakeholders."
The protocol is not meant for consumers, though retailers who obtain protocol warranties may choose to use such warranties as the basis for providing further assurance to their customers.
According to the U.S. trade groups, retailers and their suppliers who choose to incorporate the protocol in their commercial arrangements will take the first steps toward gaining greater assurance that rough or polished diamonds used in their products were not obtained from questionable sources, referred to in the protocol as "subject sources."
Since the protocol does not specify what is or is not a subject source, individual companies that use the protocol must specify those sources they deem subject sources and inform their vendors.
The trade groups explain that individual companies may base their decision on what is considered subject sources on a number of factors, such as: protection of consumer confidence; concern over negative media attention; human rights abuses; and government action that bans or limits the use of products from a particular country or person(such as national or international sanctions).
Specified countries or persons can be indicated as subject sources in the protocol - even if rough diamonds from these sources can be exported and imported with KP certificates, notes the groups in a joint statement.
The Protocol and the KP
The Diamond Source Warranty Protocol will work alongside the Kimberley Process (KP), and industry participants may elect to incorporate the protocol into their contractual arrangements with vendors.
"The Kimberley Process has demonstrated its effectiveness in dealing with issues around conflict diamonds. It is unreasonable, however, to expect it to be a panacea for all issues and challenges throughout the diamond supply chain. As an industry, we share the legitimate concerns of consumers and governments and have a responsibility to work closely with them to develop solutions that are practical," says Ronald Friedman, President, DMIA. "While governments participating in the Kimberley Process continue to work to improve it, businesses that feel the need for additional assurance can now use the Diamond Source Warranty Protocol and begin to work with their suppliers to obtain that assurance."
Background on Protocol Development
Work on the protocol began in 2011. Several retailers provided significant input in the belief that the industry must work together to devise practical approaches that address the need for greater transparency and accountability in the diamond jewelry supply chain. The UK-based consultancy, Sustainable & Responsible Solutions Ltd, also contributed to the development of the protocol.
In August and September, retailers began discussions with select suppliers about use of the protocol in order to confirm its feasibility. The feedback has been positive, says the trade groups, with both retailers and suppliers recognizing that the protocol can be "a key tool toward continuous improvement of supply chain practices."
The Protocol and an accompanying Q&A are available for use by all industry participants, regardless of whether or not they are members of any particular trade organization. To download the documents, click on the links below: