Diamond cartel is still alive, coercing the industry and robbing consumers of choices

Charterhouse, Central London - During its monopoly De Beers would stockpile diamonds here to control the market. [Image Courtesy: Simon Dawson, Bloomberg]

Traditional diamond mining companies along with various stakeholders in the diamond pipeline including associations, gemological labs, unscrupulous players and even few governments, had virtually controlled the entire diamond industry supply chain for decades. This diamond cartel had ripped off small traders, retailers and consumers for long by establishing an unfair and unethical stronghold. At the forefront of this cartel was De Beers, which has been mired in numerous controversies earlier. After new diamond miners entered the industry, it was believed that gradually De Beers lost its monopoly and the cartel was nearly dead. However, as claimed by Diamond Foundry – a California-based Lab-grown diamond producer, De Beers recently engaged in arm-twisting tactics with one of US’ Top 5 jewelry and diamond retailer, indicating that Diamond cartel is still alive, is coercing the industry and robbing consumers of choices.

A Top 5 US Jewelry retailer, not being named, apart from being De Beers’ Forevermark diamonds retailer was also selling other jewelry brands including Lab-grown diamonds from Diamond Foundry. However, a De Beers’ executive called the retailer and threatened them to stop selling Lab-grown diamonds or lose access to De Beers’ Forevermark program and even to any De Beers’ Sightholders, according to a post published in ‘The Foundry Journal’ in Diamond Foundry’s website. Such coercion and strong-arming are blatant violations of any free trade principles.

After introduction of Lab-grown diamonds in gem and jewelry usage, mined diamond industry has been facing an unfounded fear from the former and in response have gone to the great lengths of tarnishing the image of Lab-grown diamonds and people and entities associated with them. However irrelevant it might be, the question of mined diamonds or Lab-grown diamonds should be left to consumers to address, which essentially means giving them a choice. But intimidating tyrannical tactics from the diamond cartel clearly bereaves consumers of such choices and businesses of level-playing field.

It is not a matter of ‘or’ but ‘and’, which the traditional diamond industry hasn’t yet understood. Both Mined diamonds and Lab-grown diamonds can co-exist in harmony and complement each other bringing together their synergies, and the said US Top 5 jewelry retailer is one of the showcase examples of the same. Unfortunately, a progressive mindset and approach is lacking and actions of the cartel is pushing back the entire industry. In an already turbulent scenario, instead of holding hands of jewelry retailers, traders and other stakeholders, players like De Beers are holding their necks!!

This is not the first time De Beers has done something like this. Over decades, its monopolistic practices have abused humans, environment and trade itself. Insensitive companies like De Beers even drained an entire lake in the Canadian Tundra region, killing nearly 20,000 fishes just to access diamonds. St. Antonius Institute had termed De Beers as ‘The most unethical corporation in the world’.

Such incidences clearly signify that diamond cartel is very much alive and continues to coerce the industry. Sadly, the end calamity of these myopic and immoral actions are consumers who are deprived of their fundamental right to choose.

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