De Beers Moves to a More Ethical Future with Planned Introduction of Code of Origin

De Beers wants to be the go-to diamond brand of the future. Earlier this year, it rebranded its jewellery branding arm, re-christening it De Beers Forevermark. Now, it has announced plans to sell most of its diamonds with a ‘code of origin’, a unique table inscription that will identify each diamond as a natural, conflict-free gem that was discovered by De Beers in Botswana, Canada, Namibia, or South Africa.

Executive Vice President Stephen Lussier and Chief Brand Officer David Prager announced the Code of Origin program during The Power of Purpose-Led Brands: How Values Create Value, which took place at the Marcello Ballroom at The Venetian Resort on Thursday at Luxury by JCK.

if a diamond ring comes from De Beers it will have a code of origin
De Beers is planning to mark its diamonds with a code of origin. Image courtesy of Sabrinna Ringquist on Unsplash

The inscription, which will be available for diamonds of 0.3 ct. and up, is invisible and does not affect the stone’s clarity.  It will be added, post-polishing, by its lab, the De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds. The diamonds’ provenance will be tracked using the ‘pipeline integrity’ practices De Beers has developed for its Forevermark brand and could be eventually supplemented by its Tracr Platform.

The code of origin program is still in “the learn-to-scale phase now,” according to De Beers chief brand officer David Prager. “We’re proceeding with caution, making sure that we’re learning from the pilots we have in the market. But we’ll be looking for development partners in 2022 and ramping up.”

Eventually, De Beers wants “the majority of the diamonds we mine to carry the code of origin,” Prager says. However, retailers and manufacturers can decide to sell them as regular diamonds if they wish.

De Beers wants to use Blockchain-powered app, Tracr, to authenticate the code of origin
De Beers is looking to integrate the code of origin in its Blockchain-powered app, Tracr. Image courtesy of Andre Francois Mckenzie on Unsplash

For other industries, this may not be a big deal. But for the diamond industry, which is plagued by many scandals including the employment of child miners and its contribution to our ever-changing climate, assuring consumers that their jewels do not come attached with any controversy is important.

While the code of origin will act as a “trusted source mark” only, which will have no value unless consumers specifically seek them out, De Beers intends to put a lot of marketing muscle toward boosting the brand’s “fame and love.”

It has also created a new ‘Building Forever Program’ which is its way of giving back. Part of its activities is a pledge of $7million to buy 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines for Namibia and Botswana, and, a partnership with National Geographic for Okavango Eternal, a new program to protect to Okavango Delta.

Prager says that younger consumers expect companies to engage in these kinds of efforts.

Hippos crossing water in the Okavango Delta
As part of its ways to give back, De Beers will partner with National Geographic to protect Okavango Delta. Image courtesy of Colin Watts on Unsplash

“There is compelling evidence that consumers are motivated to purchase based on your carbon footprint or the assurances you’ve given as a brand that you’ve done no harm,” He says. “But we also think [brands] need to be parts of a larger story. And the larger story is not that ‘I’ve done less harm to my competitor,’ but, rather, that ‘I’ve created a significant positive impact on people and the planet.’”

“Consumers want to know the diamond they give for their most important moments and that they hold onto for decades, and hopefully one day pass on to someone they love, has made a significant impact on the life of somebody else as well.”

Source: JCK Online

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