Our commitment to ethical practice
In today’s world, consumers demand ethical sourcing. Nivoda is uniquely positioned to continue supporting an ethical, transparent and sustainable future for the diamond industry. With this positioning comes a responsibility to act.
The Kimberley Process
During the 1990s, civil wars took place across several African countries. Diamonds mined and illegally traded were referred to as “blood diamonds” and at that time represented approximately 4% of the world’s diamond production. The issue of conflict diamonds has been the greatest single threat to consumer confidence in diamonds.
As a response, the Industry and the United Nations launched the Kimberley Process in 2003. The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative, whose objective it is to stop the flow of conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process has been successful in curbing the flow of conflict diamonds, with 99.8% of the global supply of rough diamonds estimated to be conflict free by the World Diamond Council.
All diamond mining countries with exception of the Central African Republic are now part of the Kimberley process.
Nivoda only works with manufacturers who adhere to the Kimberley Process guidelines.
Mine to Market Traceability
With the birth of new technology, we can now go further. We are striving for the complete eradication of conflict diamonds within the industry. Nivoda is working with and integrating mine-to-market initiatives to show the origin and the route each diamond takes to the consumer.
Nivoda continues to innovate and embrace new initiatives to ensure ethical practices of the diamond supply chain remain at the heart of its operations.
Diamond Time Lapse Initiative
Diamond Timelapse is a mine-to-market tracking initiative where you can find the full tracking history of diamonds including mine of origin, rough sorting, rough planning, laser cutting, polishing, quality control and certification.
An initiative of Dominion Diamond Mines, all mines that are part of the Canadamark program must meet Canada’s stringent environmental regulations, and many go above and beyond.
All Canadamark diamonds are tracked through an independent, audited process at every stage from the mine of origin to the polished stone.
Every Canadamark diamond comes with the reassurance that it is responsibly & traceably mined in Canada, untreated and meets specific quality standards.
Lab grown diamonds
Lab grown diamonds are created by a technological process that takes place in a laboratory, in contrast to natural diamonds that are created through a geological process that takes place deep within the earth. Diamonds produced in a laboratory can be cut into gemstones suitable for the jewelry market. Just like natural diamonds, most lab grown diamonds are cut and polished in India. Two methods are used to produce lab grown diamonds.
The high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) method is the older approach. HPHT replicates the natural geologic process. Small seed diamonds are placed into a machine, covered with a mixture of catalyst metal and graphite powders and subjected to temperatures up to 2,500 degrees centigrade and pressure up to 60,000 atmospheres. A downside of HPHT is that most of the diamonds emerge in shades of yellow and brown because of the presence of nitrogen in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers can produce diamonds of other colors as well by introducing various gasses into the reactor chamber.
Chemical vapor deposition (CVD), manufacturers create diamond crystals in a low-pressure environment using carbon-bearing gasses. The process involves depositing a carbon vapor onto a substrate to grow the stones. Using the CVD method manufacturers can produce colorless gem-quality diamonds more economically than with the HPHT method.
It is expected that lab grown diamonds will grow to 5% to 15% of the market in value by 2030. Lab grown diamond prices have been falling, which may lead to further differentiation between natural and lab grown diamonds. As mines deplete, lab grown diamonds could offset a portion of the reduction in supply of natural diamonds.
The value chain of lab grown diamonds is, apart from mining, very similar to natural diamonds. Most lab grown diamonds are polished in India and sold through the same channels. Many jewelry stores sell both natural as well as lab grown diamonds, with only very few companies focusing on one product category. However, there is often differentiation in branding to clearly distinguish between the two product categories.
The diamond industry as a driving force of development
- An estimated 10 million people are directly or indirectly employed by the diamond industry globally
- An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally due to revenues from the diamond industry
- 99.8% of the global supply of diamonds is produced by Kimberley Process participants.
The diamond trade contributes approximately $8 billion per annum to Africa
- Diamonds account for 88% of Botswana’s export revenue, 35% of government revenue and 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP)
- Diamonds account for approximately 48% of Namibia’s export revenue, 59% of government revenue and 21% of GDP
- All the major miners and polishers, such as De Beers and ALROSA, have extensive social development programs to benefit the local populations. These include education, training, local facilities and infrastructure, among others. 25% of De Beers employees are women
- In India over 1 million people are employed in the diamond industry
- The City of Surat, the world’s diamond cutting and polishing capital, is expected to have the fastest GDP growth out all cities in the world between 2019 and 2035
In Australia, the landmark Argyle Participation Agreement signed in 2004 between Rio Tinto and the traditional owners of the Argyle mine – the Gija and Miriuwung people – empowered the local natives with training, employment, and business development opportunities, apart from giving the aboriginals a voice in mining decisions affecting their interests
Education is another area that has received support from the diamond industry, with schools founded and funded in many countries where diamond mining companies are active. For example, income from diamonds has helped make it possible for every child in Botswana to receive free schooling up to the age of 13. Since 2007, the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.), has been providing promising youth with access to higher education.
More generally, in Botswana the diamond industry is the country’s second largest employer. One of the world’s poorest countries at independence in 1966, it rapidly became one of the world’s development success stories. Significant diamond deposits have played a large role in making it an upper middle-income country with a transformation agenda of becoming a high-income country by 2036 according to the world bank.
Issues of labor rights and environmental impact are usually related to small-scale or alluvial mining. Globally, 14% of the world’s diamonds are mined via small operations, of which the largest part on the African continent. In 2015, Antwerp based AWDC, the world largest rough diamond trading organization, in collaboration with the NGO Diamond Development Initiative, set out to establish fully ethical and traceable diamonds from artisanal mines in Koidu, Sierra Leone. All diamonds mined under this project are certified by the DDI, which ensure respect for human rights, decent work, health, safety and protection of the environment. They contribute to the development of local mining communities and truly benefit them, making sure the miners obtain fair and equitable prices for their diamonds. The positive results from this project convinced AWDC to start an even more ambitious project in Guinea. The objective of this public-private-civil society partnership is to open an official channel to the international trade for fair trade diamonds originating from certified artisanal mines.
The diamond value chain
The diamond value chain becomes more and more fragmented the further you go downstream. Five mining companies produce the majority of the world’s rough supply and rough trading is centralized in a few hubs around the world. Cutting and Polishing also referred to as manufacturing, happens mostly in the Indian city of Surat, where thousands of different companies operate. Jewelry retail is even more fragmented, with family owned businesses forming the majority of outlets.
Natural Diamonds are created when carbon is put under enormous pressure and high temperatures deep within the earth. Diamonds come from two types of deposits. Primary deposits generally consist of “pipes” of volcanic rock called kimberlite. These deposits were carried by magma to the surface of the earth. Secondary deposits, or alluvial deposits, are formed as a result of erosion of material from primary deposits and contain diamonds that have traveled some distance from their original source. Diamonds found deep in the earth are mined through open-pit and underground methods. Alluvial mining methods include digging and sifting through materials such as mud, sand or gravel using shovels or (mechanical) sieves.
The world’s five largest mining companies produce about three quarters of all rough diamonds globally. With South African De Beers and Russian Alrosa making up circa 50% of global production. Other large mining companies include Australian Rio Tinto, Canadian Dominion Diamond Mines and Petra Diamonds headquartered in the UK.
Diamonds serve two main functions: jewelry and industrial use. A little more than 50 percent of the volume of diamonds mined become gemstones, yet they make up over 95 percent of the total value. Today, the majority of diamonds used for industrial purposes are lab grown diamonds. Once mined, rough natural diamonds are separated into industrial quality diamonds and gem quality diamonds.
Gem quality diamonds are either sold straight to diamond polishers referred to as Sight Holders or auctioned off. London, Moscow and Antwerp are the main centers for the purchase and trade of rough diamonds.
Transforming rough stones into finished gems, comprises four steps: determining the optimal cut, cleaving or sawing to break the rough diamond into pieces, bruiting to give the diamond the desired shape and polishing the facets. Although cutting takes place in many countries across the world, circa 90% of all diamonds in terms of value are currently polished in India, mostly in the city of Surat.
After stones have been cut, they are often certified by independent laboratories of which the Gemological Institute of America is the most well known institute.
Polished diamonds get sold to manufacturers of jewelry, jewelry retailers or diamond dealers. Many jewelry retailers, especially those selling engagement rings, buy polished diamonds directly using their own or third party “setters” to set diamonds in manufactured jewelry. Antwerp, New York and Shanghai are important polished diamond sales centers and many major diamond players maintain a presence in these cities. But recently the site of sale is shifting closer to manufacturers in India as many Indian suppliers invested in their own sales and distribution channels.
Retail in the diamond industry is dominated by private, often family-owned businesses. Larger players such as Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Signet and Chow Tai Fook, make up around 30% of the Industry. Most retailers are integrated into different steps of the value chain, all the way from rough-diamond sales to jewelry design and manufacturing. Online jewelry makes up circa 5-10% of total jewelry sales, with the percentage of diamond jewelry expected to be slightly higher than that. Online sales represent the highest growth category in the industry.