Diamonds For Humanity Collection to Debut April 13 

April 4, 2005

Diamonds For Humanity Collection to Debut April 13 

Diamonds for Humanity, a group founded by designer Sabiha Foster, will introduce the Diamonds for Humanity Jewelry Collection at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 13. The event is cosponsored by Gemesis Cultured Diamonds, a synthetic diamonds manufacturer based in Sarasota, FL. Fashion magazine Harpers Bazaar is also a sponsor.

The April issue of Harper's Bazaar unveiled a print ad campaign for Diamonds for Humanity. The four-page, two-spread ad asks: "Can Luxury and Conscience Coexist?" The ad answers its own question on the next line, saying: "Diamonds for Humanity puts an end to the conflict."

The copy on the first spread explains the Diamonds for Humanity jewelry collection celebrates "beauty, elegance and the epitome of luxury while benefiting indigenous cultures and communities affected by the illicit conflict diamond trade." The ad features a platinum "Seaweed" necklace Foster made using Gemesis synthetic diamonds. The Diamonds for Humanity collection says it also uses white "non-conflict" diamonds.

The ad continues: "as part of its global initiative, every Diamonds for Humanity sale supports health, education and land reclamation programs in collaboration with the International League for Human Rights, the Africa-America Instiute and other nongovernmental organizations." (Diamonds for Humanity Print Ad Debuts.)

Industry leaders working on issues of international corporate responsibility express concerns that the Diamonds for Humanity promotion could mislead consumers into believing purchasing natural diamonds might hurt Africans or that diamond and jewelry industries in African nations play no role in improving the lives of Africans.

Industry leaders say diamond industries in Africa benefit those who live there by providing jobs, infrastructure and humanitarian aid. Enhanced efforts in several countries to increase local black ownership of diamond enterprises make it all the more important that natural diamonds from Africa not be characterized as harmful to Africans, say leaders.

The Diamonds for Humanity initiative also does not mention the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to keep conflict diamonds out of the legitimate diamond stream, or the efforts of governments, industry and human rights organizations to enforce the scheme.

A newly active web page for Diamonds for Humanity delivers a milder message. "We invite all diamond producers who wish to support these humanitarian and educational initiatives to work with us," says Foster.

The Diamond Trading Co. met with Foster in London rrecently to explain the ways the diamond and jewelry industry is working to support Africans in the diamond trade, said Jonathon Pudney, DTC's marketing communications director. Pudney spoke to a group of trade journalists at BaselWorld on April 4 about issues of consumer confidence. "We explained the good diamonds do, not only in Africa, but what a difference they have made in places like India and Israel," said Pudney.

DTC has worked with journalists over the past year to educate them about how diamonds have benefited Africa, said Pudney. Tours to southern African diamond sites have been arranged for journalists and other consumer influencers such as film stars. Actress Ashley Judd was one recent visitor, Pudney said. DTC has also encouraged African government representatives to publicly state the benefits diamonds have provided to their people.

In an interview, Gemesis Diamonds president David Hellier said, "Diamonds for Humanity is not exclusive to Gemesis, but Gemesis is a central part of it, because our messages fit so perfectly together. Ours in not a stance against natural diamonds but a stance for humanity."

Hellier said Gemesis met with representatives from diamond-producing countries. Gemesis told African representatives it doesn't see its product as confrontational or competitive to mines in their countries. "We told them they don't have to be geographically dependent and we offered them a way to augment and support the natural diamond process," said Hellier. "Our virtual mine at Gemesis does not have to be in Sarasota, FL, alone. Our long-term view is that diamond production is or will be portable." Hellier said growing shortages of natural diamond rough would be a reason why humans would turn to synthetic diamonds to fill their needs.

Diamonds for Humanity says its April 13 event will be led by talk show host Montel Williams and will feature musical guests Chris Botti, Lily Hayden and Billy Miles. In addition, a benefit auction featuring an 'origin-certified diamond jewelry line" will be held to benefit the International League for Human Rights and the Africa-America Institute.

by Robert Weldon, G.G., & Peggy Jo Donahue

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