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Field Notes

Jun 24, 2021 5:58 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... When Pandora announced that it was moving to synthetics because the segment aligned with its sustainability goals, the natural-diamond trade responded by highlighting the tens of millions of people who depend on mined diamonds for income.

“The misleading narrative created by the Pandora announcement implying the natural-diamond industry is both less ethical and the impetus behind Pandora’s move to lab-grown diamonds…can have unintended but substantial consequences [for] communities in developing nations,” read the statement from the five trade groups representing the natural sector.

That is a good argument. The natural-diamond industry’s contribution to communities around the world is considerable and has no parallel in the lab-grown sector. But the groups’ statement did not address Pandora’s broader claims: the issue of sustainability, and particularly the environment.

Pandora devoted much of its press release to explaining that its new collection, Pandora Brilliance, had achieved carbon-neutral product certification in accordance with the CarbonNeutral Protocol. “When Pandora launches the collection globally next year, the diamonds are expected to be made using 100% renewable energy,” the company said.

Such messaging is not common in the natural-diamond market. While the industry has come a long way in highlighting its responsible sourcing efforts, the emphasis has understandably been on the work it does to uplift communities. Building on that, it must now focus more attention on the planet in its public relations.

Much is being done in the areas of conservation and renewable energy. The Natural Diamond Council (NDC) claims that its members, comprising seven of the top mining companies, protect 1,023 square miles of land — three times more land than they use.

There have also been initiatives among diamond companies to achieve carbon neutrality, with miners like De Beers and retailers such as Tiffany & Co. outlining their sustainability goals. They will no doubt be looking at the policies of their midstream partners to ensure the supply chain is as environmentally friendly as it is conflict free. More manufacturers are coming on board, with several Indian factories working to reduce their carbon footprints.

Environmental matters are increasingly important to consumers, especially Generation Z-ers, who will soon replace millennials as the core engagement ring market. While there is no escaping the effects that mining has on the environment, the industry needs to do a better job of showing that its net impact is positive.

This article first appeared in the June Rapaport Research Report. Subscribe to the report here. It is the first of the "Field Notes" column that will regularly feature on 

Image: Sunset on the Dronfield Nature Reserve in Kimberley, which is part of the  "Diamond Route," a network of reserves connected to the diamond industry across Botswana and South Africa. (De Beers)
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Tags: Avi Krawitz, De Beers, diamonds, Jewelry, lab-grown diamonds, Natural Diamond Council, Pandora, Synthetics, Tiffany & CO.
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