October 22nd, 2012By Charles Wyndham. I am beginning to recover from my trip as a guest speaker at the WFDB (World Federation of Diamond Bourses) jamboree in Mumbai. Why recover? Well, to be honest, I am a bit of a greedy so and so, and Indian cuisine is pretty irresistible to me, and I grossly over indulged, which was partly the fault of the splendid hospitality that was extended to one and all, or more importantly to me as I tucked into the delicacies on offer, Dahl this or Paneer that, is pretty overwhelming for me. To me it was as surprising to have been asked to talk as it was to learn that this was the first time that this event had been held in India. India has been the centre of our business for quite some time and I have to ask myself why has it taken so long for the industry to recognise this? Anyway, I had my say on the Tuesday afternoon and it is not for me to comment on my burble. Instead, I want to pass on what I found slightly amusing as a bystander. Mention of cultured diamonds (or as some people insist on still referring to them as synthetic diamonds), is rather like chucking itching powder down everyone’s back, or certainly mine. I really do find it funny that so much angst is caused over terminology when the real issue is glossed over as easily as an ice skater. Having said I will not mention what I spoke about, I will of course in the best traditions of our industry ignore my statement. My view about cultured diamonds is well known, if only to me. Anyway, as part of my monologue I pointed out that I think how the industry has handled cultured diamonds has been deplorable and indeed yet another example of how Jurassic our industry has become. After my burble I got challenged on my contention that the correct word to use is ‘cultured’ and not ‘synthetic’. My response was simply to look up the word ‘synthetic’ in the Oxford English Dictionary. To make life easy, I will quote from the dictionary; synthetic is “made by chemical synthesis, esp to imitate a natural product (synthetic rubber)...” Synthesis is per the same dictionary, “to process or result in the building up separate elements...” Cultured diamonds are 100% diamond, they have exactly the same chemical composition as natural diamonds, they simply are not synthetic, but man made and not dug out of the ground. Of course synthetic, in general usage, is often used as a pejorative term, so it is in the vested interests for natural players who continue to look the gift horse in the mouth, to bad mouth a competitor. At the same time, it is a notable that it has been a player in the natural game who has been exposed as a someone who has been passing off cultured as natural. Therefore to read the press release from the WFDB after its conference recognising that there is place for ‘synthetics’ is such a back handed compliment and does not persuade me that the organisation has moved from the age of the dinosaur. The other issue that I found mildly interesting was all the hullabaloo about the new protocol for diamonds as put forward by the American contingent to the WFDB. It disintegrated into some delightful cat fight as abuse was liberally tossed about as generously as confetti at any wedding. I was surprised to learn that some viewed this initiative as creating ‘apartheid’ diamonds. Wow, what an extraordinary choice of words. Someone must be feeling pretty insecure to use such explicitly emotive terms to try and bolster their argument, or perhaps to hide the fact that they have no argument? Reading the press releases and associated documents given out explaining this new initiative raised some interesting points as far as I am concerned. Those criticising this new initiative actually agree with the proponents in saying that they all agree that the KP (Kimberley Process) is doing a wonderful job. I think that in essence KP is a load of rubbish. KP, when it was initiated to deal with the situation in Sierra Leone, was not only fully justified, and, surprisingly, it actually delivered. Since then it has, in my opinion, become some bureaucratic spiders web of hypocrisy and self serving congratulations. Any analysis of the export and import numbers of the KP process only produces total incoherence, so for anyone to try and shelter under this system is simply idiotic in my opinion, however I continue to question why the process is here in the first place. So, listening to those that talk about apartheid diamonds and reading what those who have come up with a new suggestion for a protocol system, I find it incongruous that both extol the virtues of the KP process. Ronnie Friedman says in the press release, “The Kimberley Process has demonstrated its effectiveness in dealing with issues around conflict diamonds...” Well, quite simply it hasn’t, as we all know that floods of Zimbabwe diamonds reached the market before Zimbabwe was, in my opinion totally incorrectly, accepted as a participant in the KP. In the context of just how this KP has been manipulated, it is hardly surprising that the American State department are said to be sending out warning signs that something else has to be put in place. What is being proposed as put forward in the press release is a ‘voluntary approach to inventory management’. I thought that if there was one thing that our industry were expert at was ‘inventory control’ which has always been known to be ‘voluntary’. This inventory control is to “work toward a higher level of assurance to exclude diamonds from questionable sources, as determined by them (my emphasis)”. What lunatic (apart from myself who thinks the whole thing is a load of codswallop) in our industry could possibly complain about this, and, more to describe the proposal as creating ‘apartheid’ diamonds? Well, it would appear that there are plenty, from the debate’s moderator to the board of the WFDB, and many in between. To me it all looks like a clash of egos, and accusations that lack of communication is indefensible rings very hollow to me, when the result is so painfully mild. ‘Mild’, is the one thing that I do not like about any curry, which when I was on my own in Mumbai I studiously avoided.