By Michelle Graff

In the months leading up to the release of Blood Diamond, industry seminars on the issue of conflict diamonds played to packed rooms.

But on Monday at the JA New York Winter Show, just a few retailers took the time to attend “Strengthening Industry Safeguards,” an update on the Kimberley Process and the steps the industry continues to take as part of its “zero tolerance” policy on illicit stones.

That can be taken as good news and bad news. On one hand, it’s a sign many retailers are up to speed and prepared for questions. On the other, it may represent a kind of “we dodged that one” arrogance, since the film didn’t have a major impact on holiday diamond sales or Hollywood’s love affair with diamond jewelry (as witnessed by the high-bling quotient at the Golden Globes last week).

I’m hoping it’s more the former and not the latter. Now is not the time for self-congratulations and complacency. Seminar presenter Jeff Fischer, president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, pointed out how some think the industry—which survived the period when conflict diamonds made up a more significant percentage of the overall supply—is impervious.

“If they think the movie has blown over and that they don’t need to do anything, then the movie really has done harm,” he said.

Plus, with five Academy Awards nominations—including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor—the movie has its second wind. Oscar nominations may not be a true barometer of quality, but they mean business. They’re the film industry’s equivalent to a presidential campaign. Blood Diamond is officially back in the race.

Though it failed to receive a coveted Best Picture nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio’s nod for Best Actor (yes, I was wrong when I predicted he’d get nominated for The Departed instead) is a huge boost for the film. Rather then disappearing from theaters, Warner Bros. has a reinvigorated campaign. Those seemingly ubiquitous television spots will return, this time with the marketers’ favorite refrain, “Academy Award nominee...”

With the Oscars, the release of Blood Diamond in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, documentaries on the topic and continued pressure from non-governmental organizations, this is an issue that isn’t—and shouldn’t—go away. If anything, it will expand as the industry delves more deeply into developmental concerns at the heart of reducing that conflict diamond number to zero.

Bottom line: Now is not the time to throw out those confidence cards.

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