WFDB President Ernie Blom has reiterated that the organisation accepts that synthetic diamonds are a legitimate niche product but notes the WFDB will not tolerate the mixing of synthetic diamonds in parcels of natural, mined diamonds.
Blom said the WFDB’s biggest concern is that synthetics may not be disclosed as such and that the organisation needs to work with governments and law enforcement agencies to bring transgressors to justice.
He was speaking at a panel discussion as part of the plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme taking place in Dubai this week.
“We will have ‘them’ expelled from the WFDB if they are found to have contravened our charter on synthetics and they will not be able to work in any of the WFDB’s bourses around the world,” said Blom.
Blom said the WFDB has actively been promoting that consumers buy diamonds from a reputable retailer who is a recognised trade body member. In this way, the customer has a redress if a problem arises.
Further, diamantaires are now certifying diamonds of 20 points instead of stones of 0.50 carats as in the past, which gives the WFDB a level of comfort with regard to stones that are larger than 20 points. “The problem is with smaller stones and melee, but machines have been developed that can identify melee, so we are starting to feel more comfortable that smaller synthetics can be detected too.”
The WFDB’s World Diamond Mark Initiative, supported by other industry bodies, provides a “clear answer” for customers through its network of authorised retailers who are obliged not to sell synthetics and diamonds in the same store, Blom said.
During a panel discussion on a Rough Diamond Valuation initiative, Blom said the main aim should be to aid artisinal miners working in very difficult conditions and who are usually under intense pressure to sell immediately.
“There are about 800 000 such miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone, so we must ensure that they receive fair value for the stones that they mine. The miner working on the riverbed, selling a parcel once a week to feed his family, is the one who needs our protection.”