By Michelle Graff

When Brad Brooks-Rubin, the special advisor on conflict diamonds to the U.S. State Department, spoke about how the United States would remain vigilant on monitoring conflict diamonds even if the Kimberley Process (KP) fell apart, I thought he was speaking theoretically.

Looking back on that panel discussion now, I am beginning to think he was speaking prophetically.

Just a couple of weeks removed from the discussion, which was held during the Las Vegas shows, the industry finds itself in a very familiar place. Yet another scheduled KP meeting has ended without being able to come to a consensus on the issue of rough exports from the Marange region of Zimbabwe.

According to sources close to the negotiations, the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel and the Europe Union lined up on one side of the debate. They wouldn’t agree to the Marange deal unless it included some kind of mechanism for supervising exports from an area once (and still perhaps) riddled with human rights abuses and rampant diamond smuggling.

“This was the major stumbling block,” the source said.

On the other side of the debate, Zimbabwe, backed by nations including South Africa, equates constant monitoring of rough exports from Marange with colonialism and wants no part of it. (Interestingly, Russia, along with China and India--two countries consistently mentioned as having a keen interest in the Marange goods--reportedly did not take sides at the intersessional.)

And that’s how the deal ends, at 2 p.m. in the afternoon on Thursday afternoon. Officials from the DRC, which hosted the intersessional as current chair of the KP, came in and said time was up, the meeting was over.

No resolution was reached, again. So where does this leave the industry? It’s not an easy question to answer.

Both Jewelers of America and the World Diamond Council (WDC) have said publicly that goods from Marange shouldn’t be traded as the KP officially remains at an impasse. WDC President Eli Izhakoff stressed in a statement that the meeting didn’t end with “any parties slamming the door on the KP.” Efforts are ongoing (and seemingly never-ending at this point) to arrive at a consensus.

In the meantime, certain parties in the industry seem to be busy making other plans, regardless of whether the KP makes it or not.

Rewinding to the KP panel discussion held in Las Vegas, Brooks-Rubin mentioned the possibility that in the United States, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which already contains a section addressing “conflict” minerals, could be expanded to address the issue of conflict diamonds.

He also said that “if the KP falls apart” the U.S. government would remain vigilant about conflict diamonds. “Congress won’t simply repeal the Clean Diamond Trade Act and say, ‘That was a nice experiment. Let’s go back to the way things were,’” he said.

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