The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme established in 2003 by the United Nations General Assembly Resoliution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report, was intended to prevent conflict diamonds that were financing violence by terrorist rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments mainly in Africa, from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. However, the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process has been brought into question by organisations such as “Global Witness” and “IMPACT” that pulled out of the scheme in 2011 and 2017 respectively, claiming that it has failed in its purpose and does not provide markets with assurance that the diamonds are indeed conflict free. Apart from this the U.S. Department of State website has been warning for several years about scams involving fake Kimberley Process Certificates. Given the inherent deficiencies of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, there is good news in the horizon of the introduction of a new scientifically rigorous, multi-layered certified sustainability-rated diamond standard, called SCS-007,
SCS-007 provides independently verified proof of a diamond’s origin as well as its journey through the chain of custody, using evidence-based information, significantly upgrading diamond shopping experience, by giving dealers, designers, retailers and customers independently verified facts about the environmental, industrial and social history of diamonds, they are dealing with, making it difficult for unreliable players to sell or market conflict diamonds, high impact environmentally damaging diamonds or stones that were mined or processed by people who suffered human rights abuses.
Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) based in Emeryville CA, United States, is an international leader in third-party certification, validatiion and verification for environmental sustainability, and food safety and quality performance claims. It is an independent testing and certification organisatiion, which evaluates a wide variety of food safety and environmental claims, such as Certifying non-GMO foods, Sustaiable fisheries, Carbon Neutral Certification, Sustainable Water Management Certification,
FSSC 22000 Food Safety Certification, Global Food Safety Initiative Certification and now Third Party Certification for Natural and Laboratory Grown Diamonds.
Commenting on the Third Party Certification for Natural and Laboratory Grown Diamonds, Stanley Mathuram, Executive Vice-President of SCS Global Services says, “Our standard utilizes unique scientific provenance verification techniques and chemical profiling to document a natural diamond’s or lab-grown diamond’s point of origin. Our documentation also charts the diamond’s various environmental and social impacts as it is handled by dealers, cutters, polishers, designers, manufacturers and retailers before purchase by the jewelry buyer.”
In administering the SCS-007 Standard, providing third party certification for natural and lab-grown diamonds, SCS Global Services has teemed up with another specialist in source verification, with experience in analyzing diamonds from four continents since 1995, The Perth, Australia-Based Source Certain International (SCI), which has pioneered provenance verification and chemical profiling that scientifically addresses any challenges of credibility, trust and provenance verification for contemporary supply chains. TSWlobal Trace® is the name of SCI’s proprietary provenance verification technology, used in determining the provenance or origin of a product. According to SCI, whether an item is natural or man-made, its chemical composition represents where it is from and how it may have been produced.
TSW Trace first analyzes a physical sample of a given product, to determine the unique combination of chemicals, elements, molecules and isotopes that were imprinted on it through its geographic origin, which gives a chemical signature unique to the provenance of particular product. The chemical signatures of products are stored in a secure Provenance Database, which can be cross-referenced with in-market samples to verify authenticity of the product originating from that provenance, as it moves throughout the supply chain.
According to Chief Scientist of SCI, Dr R. John Watling and Managing Director of SCI Cameron Scadding, TSW Trace can effectively determine trace concentrations of elements in a diamond-bearing Kimberlite pipe. Each Kimberlite pipe embodieis a singular event frozen in time, and distinct areas of that pipe will contain specific concentrations of trace elements unique to those areas. Hence, there will be a geochemistry associated with that diamond pipe, and that single pipe and single event will contain a distinct chemical signature. TSW Trace having determined a diamond’s chemical signature compares it with the chemical signatures of different Kimberlite pipes and can pinpoint exactly the Kimberlite pipe from which that particular diamond originated. This technology of tracing the origin of diamonds according to Dr. John Watling grew out of a “Gold-Fingerprinting” technology pioneered by him in the late 1970s, and was used extensively to identify the provenance of stolen gold, by liniking it back to its mine of origin.
According to the Executive Vice-President of SCS Global Services, “SCS ensures the integrity of its Chain of Custody documentation by using multiple, mutually reinforcing steps, which include auditing the traceability and inventory controls put in place by diamond producers and handlers, ensuring the segregation of certified material from non-certified material and taking other steps to ensure the integrity of their supply. SCS also insists that all certified cut diamonds are graded by a third party like diamond grading laboratories, such as GIA, IGI, AGS, EGL, SSEF etc. giving information on carat weight, cut, clarity, colour and dimensions. Apart from this SCS also requires data from diamond producers and handlers to ensure that SCS can track back diamonds to their location of productioin. This information is then made publicly available in the online SCS Sustainability Rated Diamonds Database,
which allows consumers and diamond industry stakeholders to confirm the certificatioin status of diamonds that they purchase.”
It is indeed heartening to note that some globally influiential retailers such as, Swarovski, Brilliant Earth and Fair Trade Jewellery Co. have already signed up with SCS to sell SCS-007 certified sustainability rated diamonds The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues a highly-rated organic label for foods grown according to strict environmentally friendly farming standards and practices. The SCS-007 standard is said to be the jewelry industry’s analogue of the USDA-certifieid organic label. While, the USDA-certified organic standard applies to foods grown according to strict environmentally friendly farming standards and practices, the SCS-007 standard applies to natural or lab-grown diamonds that are sustainably rated and environmentally friendly. It also certifies that either type of diamond was then cut and polished or set into jewelry by employees working in safe and humane facilities, who received fair wages for their labour.
Just as much as the value of USDA-certified organic foods had risen exponentially in comparison with uncertified foods it is anticipated that the perceived value of certified sustainability-rated diamonds will also rise exponentially as more designers, retailers and consumers become aware of the fact that the SCS-007 standard requires scientific third party verification of a diamond’s origin and odyssey.
The existence of the SCS-007 standard is also anticipated to help generate consumer desire for proven environmentally friendly diamonds of verifiable origin, while at the same time making it more difficult for entities to make deceptive claims regarding a diamond’s environmental bona fides, origins and journey through the chain of custody.
For producers and consumers of lab-grown diamonds, attaining SCS-007 certification may be more meaningful, given the fact that production of lab-grown diamonds require large quantities of electicity, and the leading producers of lab-grown diamonds in the World generate this electricity mainly by burining coal, which is the single biggest contributor to human-caused climate change. Hopefully, SCS-007 certification of such lab-grown diamonds, might induce the producers to go for cleaner forms of energy, that would be environmental friendly.
An independent verification of a diamond’s origin have now become a matter of concern to all consumers around the World especially in the context of the dramatization of how mining, processing and sale of natural diamonds are linked to the unholy trinity of human rights abuses, financing of civil conflicts and environmental degradation, as highlighted by the 2006 film “Blood Diamonds” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kanye West’s Grammy Award-winning, 2005 rap song, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” Apart from this Jewelry Lovers are also aware that almost 80% of a diamond’s environmental, social and cultural impacts occur either in the diamond mine or in the growing facility in the case of lab-grown diamonds.
Given the inherent deficiencies of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, especially the problem of fake certificates, Stanley Mathuram, Executive Vice-President of SCS Global Services asserts that such certificates alone are not reliable for defining origin, and stresses the fundamental need for luxury retailers to offer verified documentation of a diamond’s origin. He further states, “Most diamonds sold today do not come with third-party proof of origin. Hence, customers should demand that their diamond’s provenance is independently verified with empirical evidence detailing its mine or lab of origin, country and date of extraction.” According to him even diamond grading reports issued by internationally-recognized diamond grading labs, lack clarity regarding diamond origin. Some labs accepts parcels of mixed rough diamonds from producers that mine in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa. These labs instead of disclosing the country or mine that a paricular diamond emanated from, simply note that the diamond came from a producer that mines in one of those four countries. Such opacity, according to him perpetuates the mystification of diamond origin among retailers and consumers.
Hence, the SCS-007 Standard, Third Party Certification for Natural and Laboratory Grown Diamonds, proposed by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) Global Services and Source Certain International (SCI), appears to be the 100% fool-proof and credible certification system for not only conflict-free diamonds but also for diamonds produced without any human rights abuses or causing environmental degradation.