Could Naomi Campbell help tackle Blood Diamonds in the jewellery markets?

It's probably a sign of the times that it took the appearance of supermodel Naomi Campbell, testifying at the Special Court of Sierra Leone against Liberia's ex-warlord, Charles Taylor, to bring the issue of 'blood diamonds' back onto the global media stage.

Campbell's involvement - reportedly involving a mysterious pouch of diamonds allegedly gifted to her by Taylor - has drawn widespread reporting of the issue not seen since 2006. Back then, the "celebrity factor" also came in the play with the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film, Blood Diamond.

That said, the issue of conflict diamonds has gained heightened exposure in recent years, thanks in part to increased pressure from National Government Organisations to strengthen the fight against non-ethical diamonds.

This is agreed by a report published by Fusion Alternatives, an investment advisory and trading firm specialising in polished diamonds, which claims that "tremendous in-roads" have been made towards curing the industry of non-ethical diamonds in the last decade.

A miner in Sierra Leone searches his pan for diamonds

The report also acknowledges the power of celebrity-based media, claiming that recent issues like Zimbabwe's alleged flaunting of its Kimberley Process (KP) status posed less risk to diamond sales than the 2006 Blood Diamond film.

According to Fusion Alternatives, the industry responded to Hollywood with a "concerted industry effort" to "effectively disseminate a clear message" about the positive steps taken to stamp out non-ethical diamonds.

Nevertheless, some argue that these "positive steps" aren't enough. The KP, for instance, is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative established to stem the flow of conflict diamonds through site visits, analysis and peer reviews of diamond producing countries.

Campbell reportedly wore a diamond
pendant intended to 'warn off evil
spirits' while testifying against
a Liberian ex-warlord

Today's Guardian newspaper describes the KP as "an increasingly rickety-looking certification system... It has no leadership [and] no accountability." Meanwhile, Zimbabwe continues to export "conflict free diamonds" despite evidence of gross human rights violations by its government.

Meanwhile, as different sides debate over the progress being made against conflict diamonds, industry analysis and auction results reveal that diamond investment prices are remaining strong and unaffected - largely due to continuing demand outstripping supply.

If anything, the world's top auction houses have been reporting great successes throughout 2010. Back in March, Christie's diamonds and vintage jewels sale in Geneva netted total sales of $33.9m, led by the sale of a flawless white 40.21 carats diamond for 5.69m Swiss francs ($5.14m).

Such auction results suggest that global collectors and investors are accepting higher asking prices, and are now actively buying at higher prices. Consequently, the upper end of the market remains extremely strong in the beginning of 2010's second half.

This was further demonstrated at Christie's jewel sale in Hong Kong at the beginning of the month. Eighty-nine percent of the lots on offer were sold generating $60.4m in sales.

Multi-million dollar diamonds on the market this year have included the
203.04carat, D-colour, flawless white Millennium Star (You can
find out more here)


In the overall markets, diamonds have been consistently gaining value over the past six months. Since the beginning of the year prices have increased by 15%.

Meanwhile, a successful sale at UK auction house Gorringes prompted it to proclaim that its sales results are "a positive indication that we are climbing out of recession, it is hoped."

For now, while it's hoped that the media focus on Naomi Campbell will draw attention to the issue - and progress - of action against blood diamonds, non-conflict jewellery investments are continuing to prove themselves as resilient and thriving asset on the auction blocks and private markets.


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