Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) chief executive Willie Hamilton has come out in support of MasterCut’s decision to ban the purchase of Marange diamonds.

The decision to instigate the ban was made earlier this week by MasterCut, which retails in 40 stores nationwide and sells exclusively through CMJ.

“I support the ban one hundred percent,” CMJ chief executive Willie Hamilton said. “We jointly made this decision.”

“There is too much uncertainty over whether the diamonds coming out of that country will be ethical. What constitutes ‘ethical’ also needs to be more comprehensively defined.”

MasterCut selects rough, as opposed to polished diamonds, as it is almost impossible to monitor the supply chain of the polished stones.

The company buys its diamonds from De Beers, through the DTC, in Botswana and London; De Beers sources diamonds from its own mines and recently announced that it would not be selling stones from the Marange region.

21st Direction Group and MasterCut managing director James Maxwell said: “The recent decision by the Kimberley Proccess to allow diamond exports from Zimbabwe, has reinforced our decision not to buy rough diamonds from Zimbabwe whilst the possibility of human rights abuses exist.”

Headded: “We believe that Industry Leadership is required to maintain consumer confidence, and would call on other diamond brands to also confirm that no Zimbabwean diamonds are being used in their diamond jewellery.”

Maxwell told Professional Jeweller that he wants to use MasterCut’s position in the diamond pipeline as a tool, to enable retailers to demonstrate where their diamonds are coming from.

“We want to allow the retailers to answer the consumers questions,” he said. “We have to be as transparent as possible. Diamonds should be a force for good in Africa, instead of a source of conflict. Botswana is the world’s largest gem diamond producing nation and its profits go directly back into the country’s infrastructure, but that is never seen.”

Maxwell did not criticise KP’s decision to certify Zimbabwe diamonds, despite his refusal to buy the stones, as he claimed that disengaging from Zimbabwe could result in its stones being sold on the black market.

“I think KP is in a very difficult position because if it disengages with Zimbabwe, then it will try and flood the market anyway,” he said. “It found this with Venezuela a few years ago. It is a pragmatic decision and I don’t think you can condemn it. But from our perspective, we want to be able to give an absolute guarantee that our diamonds are not harming the people who mine them.

“I certainly wouldn’t say to you that buying diamonds with a KP certificate is a guarantee, but if you disengage with this process, what are you left with? You are left with nothing at all.”

Reproduced from the Professional Jeweller.