New Diamond Hallmark Guarantees Canadian Origin

June 4, 2003

New Diamond Hallmark Guarantees Canadian Origin

Retailers have a new tool to help sell Canadian diamonds: the CanadaMark™ hallmark that guarantees origin and indicates quality. BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., operator of Ekati, Canada's first diamond mine, introduced the hallmark at The JCK Show-Las Vegas.

CanadaMark is intended to appeal customers who value a diamond's origin, says Marcus Randolph, president of BHP's Diamonds and Specialty Products division. Diamond wholesalers, jewelry manufacturers and retailers will use CanadaMark in conjunction with their own brands, comparable to the Intel Inside processor logo on Dell computers, says Randolph. Adds Terry Janes, BHP's vice president of marketing, "CanadaMark will support these brands with origin-guaranteed polished diamonds. It will not overpower the brand or product line it supports."

All CanadaMark diamonds will be mined in Canada; some will be cut there, others will be cut elsewhere. The diamonds will have the hallmark inscribed on the girdle; be tracked through the selling, cutting and polishing processes; be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity; and be priced competitively, says BHP.

The company plans to market the diamonds to the trade and consumers, highlighting the quality of Canadian diamonds and the story of how they're mined from beneath the tundra. Though many in the trade have noted the advantages Canadian diamonds have over those associated with atrocities in certain African countries, BHP says that will not be a factor in the marketing program. "Canadian diamonds have a more widespread appeal," says Janes.

The Ekati Diamond Mine, operating since 1998, produces about 4 million carats of rough diamonds annually. That represents about 4% of the world's rough diamond production by weight and 6% by value. Janes says the company's move into polished diamonds will not diminish its rough diamond business. With a three-year agreement to supply De Beers coming to an end, BHP will shift a comparable amount of production to its own polished diamond business.

BHP also notes the CanadaMark program will remain separate from its Aurius™ brand. While the CanadaMark hallmark is intended for use by companies with an established brand, the Aurius brand is for small shops that don't use a particular brand.

by Ren Miller

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