Jewelers of America sent a conflict diamond update to its members today
asking them to avoid supporting U.S. Rep. Tony Hall's (D-OH) Clean Diamonds Act (H.R. 918).
The update asks jewelers to wait instead for details on an
industry-supported bill expected to be introduced in the Senate when
it reconvenes April 23. JA says the industry-supported
bill will be more effective, more enforceable and not harmful to the diamond
and jewelry industry, says JA Spokesman Fred Michmershuisen.
JA's update was issued in response to a campaign kicked off today by a human rights coalition called The Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds,
which specifically asks jewelry retailers to support the Clean Diamonds Act.
The group, spearheaded by Physicians for Human Rights, promises if
jewelers write to them indicating support for Hall's bill, the group will send them a window
decal identifying the store as a supporter of "clean diamonds." The campaign will focus on influencing 50 prominent jewelry stores
nationwide to participate in the initiative, says a press release on the PHR
Web site, www.phrusa.org.
JA asked its members not to join in the campaign or display the group's
Jewelry-industry leaders' main objection to Hall's bill is its requirement that
all diamonds and diamond jewelry carry a label stating the diamonds
adhered to an international rough-control certification program. This would
add undue expense and negativity to every diamond purchase, industry leaders
say, ultimately hurting the sale of all diamonds. The international
diamond industry has been careful to protect the interests of other diamond
producers in Africa, such as Botswana and South Africa, which mine
non-conflict diamonds and depend on the revenues.
Other industry leaders say that since the industry has been proactive in
responding to the conflict diamond crisis, it deserves some credit for
initiative. They say they're fearful that if Hall's bill is passed without credit
given to the industry, consumers may feel the jewelry industry had to
be browbeaten into accepting conflict diamond controls. The opposite is
true, they say. The industry-supported bill due to be introduced in the
Senate, say insiders, will more effectively reflect the work groups
such as the World Diamond Council have accomplished since the diamond and
jewelry industry began fighting conflict diamonds.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue