RAPAPORT... Cartier International provided a grant to the Diamond Development Initiative International (DDI) to focus on implementing “Development Diamond Standards” for artisanally produced diamonds. In Sierra Leone, DDI is working with local leaders and civil society to identify sites where diamonds are produced in ways that are environmentally sound, and where diggers receive a fair price, working under safe conditions.
Those diggers' diamonds will then be tracked through the trading, polishing and retail system to provide customers with gems that go beyond standard definitions of “ethical” and “fair trade” products. If successful, this pilot program stands to revolutionize the development prospects for miners -- where an estimated 15 percent of the world’s gem diamonds are produced.
The Cartier grant will also provide general support, assisting DDI in several projects now under way, including human rights training in Africa, and a major registration project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is bringing more than 70,000 miners into the formal sector.
Dorothée Gizenga, DDI’s executive director, said, ''I have just returned from a month in the Congo and I can say that Cartier’s support is not just a vote of support for our work, it is a solid example of how the concept of corporate social responsibility has expanded beyond the immediate corporate environment to a wider world of development possibilities.''
There are an estimated 1.3 million artisanal diamond diggers across Africa, serving as the primary breadwinner for families that total as many as 10 million people. These diggers earn on average, about a dollar a day, and there are tens of thousands like them in South America as well.
Bernard Fornas, Cartier’s president, was delighted to support the Development Diamond Standards project and believes it is a powerful and effective way to drive positive change in the artisanal diamond mining sector.
Additionally, DDI announced that Susan Jacques, the chief executive of Borsheims Fine Jewelry and Gifts, will be the honorary chair of the Friends of DDI fund-raising campaign.
This program includes a Retailers Friendship Kit that will allow jewelry retailers and suppliers to demonstrate to their customers and constituents that the industry is making a positive impact on the lives of the people who mine diamonds by artisanal methods.
Jacques said, ''I believe that DDI’s efforts will make a critical and positive impact on the lives of the 10 million plus people associated with artisanal diamond mining, and that their work ultimately benefits the jewelry industry at large, by responding to the growing consumer preference for ethical jewelry.''
Gizenga added that Jacques' leadership will raise the visibility and stature of the Friends of DDI program and will be a driving force of success for this campaign.