JVC Issues Press Release on FTC Warning for Advertising Diamonds as “Conflict Free”

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) today announced that the latest development in the ongoing Conflict Diamonds issue is advertising awareness by the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

“The attorney for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Robin Spector, has contacted us to let our office know that the FTC is aware of the Conflict Diamonds issue. As a result, they are now monitoring jewelry advertising (at all levels of the trade) for assertions that diamond inventories are free of conflict diamonds,” says JVC’s Executive Director and Legal Counsel Cecilia L. Gardner. “It is their legal opinion that absolutely nothing can be considered ‘conflict-free’ at this point in time, until a proven international certification system can be put in place and monitored. Any such claims would be unsubstantiated and therefore deceptive, according to the FTC.”

“This is a very serious matter,” continues Gardner. “The FTC has civil enforcement sanctions they can follow for persons or companies they find in violation of this policy. This means they can audit a firm’s books, monitor their advertising (both past advertising and future advertising for periods of time) and generally closely monitor the company for compliance.”

What about firms that only buy, for example, Australian or Canadian diamonds? “The FTC is of the opinion that there are no guarantees for country of origin, until an international system is set into place. Along with the FTC, we at the JVC also strongly advise that firms avoid asserting that their diamond inventories are guaranteed to be conflict free until a system is in place, worldwide. The World Diamond Council is continuing to work to make this a reality as quickly as possible,” Gardner concludes.

So, what should companies be doing? “We recommend that trade members write a letter to their suppliers asking for written assurance that the firm(s) they are buying from are making their best efforts to avoid intentionally trading in conflict diamonds. In turn, the trade members can then communicate this assurance to their customers,” adds Gardner.

Joint Statement of WDC and NGO Steering Committee

The World Diamond Council and the non-governmental community represented by Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, OxfamAmerica, World Vision, World Relief and the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism support the Clean Diamonds Act being introduced today in the Senate. This legislation will create a system to prohibit the U.S. import of conflict diamonds and impose serious penalties on those who trade in them.

Our collaboration represents the shared commitment of the NGO community and the diamond industry to work together to secure passage of this legislation sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Michael DeWine, R-Ohio. We thank the Senators for introducing this bill, which accommodates the concerns of both the diamond industry and the NGO community. We also wish to thank Reps. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, and Frank Wolf, R-Va., for their commitment to ending the conflict diamond trade.

We are determined to work together to secure rapid enactment of this legislation, which represents the best efforts of the NGO community and diamond industry to develop a workable system for keeping conflict stones out of the United States.

The conditions placed on the importation of diamonds and diamond jewelry in the legislation are designed to support and encourage the work of the 38 countries that are part of the Kimberley Process, which is developing an international system to stop trade in conflict diamonds. The standards being developed by participants in the Kimberley Process, which includes governments, NGOs and the diamond industry, are expected to be presented in final form to the United Nations General Assembly by the end of this year.

Passage of this legislation also will enhance the confidence of U.S. jewelers and consumers that American purchases of diamonds and diamond jewelry are not unwittingly benefiting abusive insurgencies in Africa.

We collectively call upon the U.S. Congress to pass the Clean Diamonds Act in this session of Congress and urge President Bush to sign it into law.


WASHINGTON, DC – The World Diamond Council (WDC), representing all segments of the diamond industry in the U.S. and abroad, hailed the introduction today of legislation that would prohibit the importation into the United States of diamonds and diamond jewelry from conflict areas and impose tough penalties on those who trade in conflict stones.

“The diamond industry worldwide is committed to the enactment of strong legislation that will help establish an international system to ensure that only legitimate diamonds are traded,” said Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council. “Our goal is to stop the abhorrent practices of rebel movements in Africa that use illegal diamond sales to finance their brutal insurgencies.

“We are very pleased to add our voices to those who support this legislation. It is vital to our efforts to establish an international regulatory system that will keep conflict stones from entering the supply chain, while protecting the legitimate trade.”

Ishakoff noted that the bill complements, supports and encourages the work of the Kimberley Process, which is working under UN auspices to create an international diamond certification system designed to stamp out the trade in conflict stones. Participants include 38 countries and representatives from non-governmental organizations and the industry, who will report back to the UN General Assembly before the end of the year.

The bill introduced today builds on proposals submitted by the World Diamond Council and a coalition of non-governmental organizations interested in the issue. It is compliant with World Trade Organization standards and is consistent with U.S. Customs regulations.

Izhakoff praised the efforts of the legislation’s sponsors – Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Michael DeWine, R-Ohio – as well as Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, for their efforts in negotiating the compromise bill.

“This is a bill with tough but fair standards that will keep illegitimate diamonds out of the U.S. while allowing legitimate diamond industries in countries like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to flourish,” Izhakoff said. “We at the World Diamond Council strongly support its enactment and urge Congress to act on it quickly.”


US Retailers Hail Conflict Diamond Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Jewelers of America (JA), which represents more than 10,000 retail jewelers nationwide, called today for swift passage of new legislation designed to keep diamonds from conflict areas out of the United States.

“This bill is a critical step forward in the ongoing effort to eliminate the insidious traffic in conflict diamonds,” said Matthew A. Runci, President and CEO of Jewelers of America. “Retail jewelers are committed to doing all we can to sever the link between diamonds and the violence that plagues some parts of Africa.”

“While conflict diamonds represent only a small percentage of those traded, our goal is to assure American consumers that every diamond in our stores comes from a legitimate source. This legislation is an essential step toward achieving that goal,” Runci said.

The bipartisan measure, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Mike DeWine (R-OH), would create a system to prohibit U.S. imports of conflict diamonds and impose serious penalties on those who do not comply. Their bill, S.1084, is a refinement of a proposal introduced earlier this year (H.R. 918) with Representatives Tony Hall (D-Ohio) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) as chief sponsors. Congressmen Hall and Wolf played a major role in the consultative process that included representatives of industry and of the humanitarian organizations interested in the issue.

“Representatives Hall and Wolf deserve great credit for helping to craft this new compromise bill, which meets the concerns of all the interested parties,” said Runci.

The new bill also supports the work of the Kimberley Process, an international effort to establish a global certification system to end the trade in conflict diamonds.

“The United States is the largest single market for diamonds worldwide,” said Runci. “The legislation introduced today is critical to the establishment of an international system that will cleanse the legitimate supply chain of conflict diamonds. We will work with Members of Congress, non-governmental organizations and industry groups to secure its prompt passage.”

Jewelers of America, which works locally through 42 state and regional offices, is a member of the World Diamond Council, which represents all segments of the diamond industry worldwide and which also supports the bill.

“Cooperation is critical to achieving a sound, workable solution to the conflict diamond problem without harming legitimate players in the industry,” Runci said. “We look forward to continued cooperation in working to see this sound piece of legislation becomes law.”

Kimberley Process Meeting Concludes in Moscow

The international diamond industry, represented by the World Diamond Council, welcomes the important progress achieved by the Moscow meetings of the intergovernmental Kimberley Process.

In particular, it applauds the framework for proposed “conflict free” certification on all exports and re-exports of rough diamonds. The WDC endorses fully the work of the Kimberley Process and is dedicated to the eradication of the trade in conflict diamonds. The WDC also supports the recent introduction of key legislation in the United States, which will complement the Kimberley Process. The close cooperation of industry, governments and civil society within the Kimberley Process – as in the US – has been central to the success of the Moscow meetings.

As a significant contribution to the Process, the WDC – on behalf of the entire diamond industry – proposed the introduction of a “chain of warranties”, which would require diamond transactions to be accompanied by a declaration that diamonds offered for sale are conflict free.

The WDC called upon the governments participating in the Kimberley Process to strengthen these warranties by legal endorsement, with appropriate and enforceable penalties.

Furthermore, the WDC undertakes to coordinate existing codes of practice within the diamond industry to determine unified standard principles for the trading of diamonds, which will be enshrined in the final report of the Kimberley Process to the United Nations General Assembly.

The international diamond industry, led by WDC Chairman Eli Izhakoff, reaffirms its absolute commitment to the Kimberley Process and places its expertise at the disposal of governments in devising and implementing effective measures to end the immoral trade in conflict diamonds.


Antwerp, October 11, 2001 – H.M. King Albert II of Belgium granted Eli Izhakoff the title of «Officer of the Order of King Leopold». The decoration was bestowed by Mrs. Minister Annemie Neyts in Belgium’s official visitors castle, Val Duchesse in Brussels.


In the justification of the nomination, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Louis Michel stated: “Mr. Izhakoff was the president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses from 1991 on. He has fulfilled this mandate in an exemplary way. He took several initiatives that brought the World Federation of Diamond Bourses on the world map. The restructuring of the World Federation resulted in a permanent seat for Antwerp in the executive committee. Mr. Izhakoff has contributed considerably and on many occasions in emphasizing Antwerp as a world center for diamonds. As such he contributed in making the markets of the Far East more accessible for Antwerp. He was also at the origins of the publication of a book on the history of the Antwerp diamond sector and the importance of Antwerp in the worldwide trade of diamonds.”

Minister Annemie Neyts, who bestowed the medal, said: “In this time of communication and transparency, the World Diamond Council has made a clear and right choice choosing you as a president and as a spokesman within the Kimberley process.”

“My country Belgium, which has a voluntaristic policy towards Africa, is a pioneer in the struggle against conflict diamonds. We attempt to contribute to the resolution of conflicts with the aim of restoring peace and development.” the Minister further reminded.

The ceremony was attended by Mr. Bram Fischler, president of the WFDB, Mr. Gaetano Cavalieri, president of CIBJO, Mr. Rory More O’Ferrall, Director of De Beers, Charles Bornstein, President of HRD and leading persons of the banking sector, government administrations and the Antwerp diamond community.

At night, HRD hosted a dinner for Mr. Izhakoff in presence of diamond industry and government representatives. Baron Delwaide, Vice Mayor of Antwerp held an occasional speech.

Izhakoff and Runci Issue Joint Statement

Industry Leaders Urge Immediate Government Action

To Eliminate Conflict Diamonds in Wake of New Disclosure

Matthew Runci, president of Jewelers of America, and Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council, today issued the following statement: The disclosure by The Washington Post detailing collusion among the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, Liberian authorities and the al-Qaeda terrorist network underscores dramatically the need for immediate government action to halt the insidious traffic in conflict diamonds.

It has been known for all too long that bandits masquerading as rebels have been using the proceeds from the sale of stolen diamonds to finance their criminal behavior in some African countries. The new disclosure indicates that al-Qaeda received a share of those proceeds.

The best way to halt this destructive traffic is also known. Nations involved in the diamond trade — as producers, processors and importers — must construct an effective monitoring system that protects the legitimate supply chain from the small percentage of illicit stones obtained by criminal elements.

Progress toward this end is being made. Last week in Angola, officials of relevant governments along with representatives of the diamond industry and interested humanitarian organizations continued to work toward establishing the necessary control system. The next session of this group, known as the Kimberley Process, will take place later this month in Botswana. All segments of the diamond industry are actively supporting this constructive effort. However, strong leadership by the United States — the world’s largest importer of diamonds — is vital as well. Both industry organizations and a broad coalition of humanitarian organizations interested in the issue are united in support of the Clean Diamonds Trade Act (HR 2722) and a companion bill pending in the Senate.

This legislation would empower the President to take firm action barring the importation of conflict diamonds. It would also promote an international agreement looking toward a global control system. The bill is consistent with the principles developed by the Kimberley Process and endorsed by the United Nations. This bill has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. All the legislators who have sought to eliminate conflict diamonds now favor HR 2722. We urge Capitol Hill and the Bush administration to enact the Clean Diamonds Trade Act during the current session of Congress in order to deny criminals and terrorists revenue from illicit traffic.


The World Diamond Council (WDC), representing the international diamond and jewelry industry, welcomes the success of the Kimberley Process in reaching consensus on recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly for measures to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds.

This intergovernmental process, involving more than thirty nations, the WDC and civil society, will implement a system of certificates for rough diamonds, supported by industry self-regulation, that will assure consumers the diamonds they buy are conflict free.

On the same day that the Kimberley Process achieved its goals, the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Diamonds Trade Act, initiated by Congressman Tony Hall and others, by an overwhelming majority (408-6). The WDC fully supports this legislation, and is delighted that the Act and the Kimberley Process, in both of which the diamond industry was actively involved, have come together on the same day.

The WDC acknowledges the invaluable contribution of the international community – governments and non-governmental organizations – in this initiative to protect the legitimate diamond industry and the integrity of its product. The WDC has offered its technical expertise and assistance to participating governments.

The diamond industry thanks the South African government, and in particular Mr. Abbey Chikane, for their Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process and the Botswana government for their generous hospitality in Gaborone.


John Holland Letter

Dear Sirs,

I have been following the progress of international efforts to curtail
the sale of “conflict diamonds” from Africa. I am appalled, as I know
you are, how the sale of rough diamonds has been used to fund civil
wars, and in the process, the killing and/or mutilation of innocent
women and children.

My intent, in writing this letter, is to applaud your council on it’s
response. You have been appropriately reactive and proactive in
providing information on this issue.  The Diamond industry has been a
victim of this problem, as well.

I am hoping that by next year or the following year, I will feel
comfortable with purchasing a diamond pendant or bracelet for my wife
and receiving a legitimate certification of origin.

Keep up the good work,

John Holland
Franklin, TN


Meeting at the Milan Trade Exhibition Center in Italy, the World Diamond Council (WDC) announced its own measures to combat the trade in conflict diamonds. Members of the Council unanimously voted for the implementation of a system of warranties that will endorse each transaction of rough diamonds in trading centers around the world.

This system is designed to complement and support the international certification scheme developed by the Kimberley Process, which is being led by South Africa and involves more than 35 nations.

Speaking at the meeting, Eli Izhakoff, Chairman of the WDC, said “consumer confidence is the most essential asset of our industry and the unanimous decision taken today to implement this system of warranties demonstrates our determination to maintain that confidence”.

In addition to leaders of the world diamond industry, the meeting included representatives of many governments and leading non-governmental organisations involved in the Kimberley Process. Professor Antonio Marzano, the Italian Minister of Trade and Industry, welcomed delegates and spoke of the importance the Italian Government attached to the efforts being shown by the WDC and the Kimberley Process to end the trade in conflict diamonds.

Abbey Chikane, from South Africa and Chairman of the Kimberley Process, acknowledged the positive support given by the WDC and the diamond industry and added that “the industry is clearly committed to the eradication of conflict diamonds”.

Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of the De Beers Group, also addressed the meeting saying that with the decision to adopt the system of warranties the diamond industry is turning words into action not only to protect the integrity of diamonds but also “because it is right to do so. We have a clear duty to the societies in which we operate to act, and act effectively.”

The system of warranties will be included in measures developed by the Kimberley Process and presented for ratification by the United Nations General Assembly.