By Michelle Graff

It’s a hard week to grab headlines, with the untimely death of the man who will forever be known around the world as the King of Pop dominating nearly every news outlet.
(God be with you, Michael Jackson. May you find peace in the after life.)
Nevertheless, those that follow the diamond industry know that there was a virtual explosion of news this week regarding problems with the diamond industry worldwide, all as Kimberley Process (KP) officials held their sixth inter-sessional meeting June 23-25 in Windhoek, Namibia.
The week started out with a group of human rights organizations calling out the KP for, quite simply, being asleep at the wheel — not effectively attacking the very problems the system was created to address while issues rage in Guinea, Venezuela, Lebanon and Zimbabwe.
The inter-sessional meeting itself turned out to be an interesting one (apparently, it’s been less than interesting in the past — I wouldn’t know, I’ve never attended one), according to this account from my colleague Edhan Golan, an Israeli based journalist for IDEX.
The day after the meeting, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a scathing press release designed to call attention to the situation in Zimbabwe.
You can read our account here, or read the HRW’s entire report.
All of this might seem like a bit much to absorb in just one short week.
It certainly was for me.
But, one thing is clear, so much so that it seems painfully obvious and cliché to state: the diamond industry needs to band together and do all it can do to address these situations.
First and foremost, it is, in the simplest human terms, the right thing to do.
Secondly, the industry definitely cannot afford a public relations storm right now.
I wasn’t the diamond editor here in 2006, when “Blood Diamond” came out, but it is my understanding that the Leo special had little or no impact on diamond jewelry sales in the United States.
But things are different today.
To start with, the economy has people hesitant to spend on non-necessary, luxury items and diamonds certainly fall into that category.
Secondly, I have been reading a lot over the past few months that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the genesis of the products they buy.
People want to know how the products they are wearing, driving or consuming impact the world around them, now and for future generations.
I personally think it’s a fantastic change in mindset but it won’t be for diamonds, if the industry doesn’t clean up its act.
Issues that missed most consumers the first time might not slide so easily the second, even if they arose during a week when the world was distracted by something else.

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