Eli Izhakoff Letter to Esquire Magazine

Mr. David Granger, Editor-In-Chief

Dear Mr. Granger,

I am writing to respond to an article that appears in the January issue of your magazine entitled, “The Opportunist,” by John Richardson. As a member of the diamond industry for over 30 years, I feel your piece warrants a response for in no way is it a fair representation of the diamond industry at large. In my other role as Chairman of the World Diamond Council, I also felt it was important to clarify the truth about the exportation of Sierra Leone diamonds, and to further explain all of the positive initiatives the diamond industry has put into place since this article was compiled back in July.

The cavalier descriptions of diamonds leaving Sierra Leone in Richardson’s piece are misleading. Back in mid October, Sierra Leone instituted a diamond certification program whereby all diamond exports are accompanied by a certificate stating the diamond’s origin, thereby allowing the Sierra Leone government to monitor the sale of conflict diamonds. Though no system is perfect, this certification scheme has been recognized by the United Nations, and is certainly helping to dramatically curb the trade in diamonds being sold into the international market from areas of conflict.

On a global front, the World Diamond Council — a united group of diamond industry leaders formed with the specific purpose of ending the trafficking in conflict diamonds — has been working diligently since July towards developing a system of international controls to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds. Although so-called conflict diamonds represent less than 4% of total worldwide diamond production (therefore even less if you separate out Sierra Leone), all of those involved in the diamond industry are wholly committed to achieve their complete elimination without damaging stable African democracies that rely on diamonds. As a matter of fact, we (the WDC) are currently drafting legislation that would require countries that import rough diamonds to bar entry to any stones without proper seals and certificates of origin unique to each shipment. The system we are proposing will make it impossible for illegitimate diamond traders to find a market for their stones in our industry.

In closing, Nick Karras, the diamond dealer portrayed in your piece, is not typical of the diamond industry I have described above. I hope I have made that point clear.