It is a popular Internet meme, with countless photos and videos circulating the web labeling people or events that don’t meet expectations as a “fail,” with some intended to be humorous and others more serious in nature.

Fail is also popular on micro-blogging site Twitter. When used with a tweet, #fail generally indicates that the tweeter is not pleased with something, and the large mammal that appears when the site is overloaded is referred to as the “fail whale.”  

While I understand this modern spin on failure, I also still have an appreciation for its more traditional, and oftentimes graver, original connotation, and I was saddened to see it attached to the Kimberley Process (KP) plenary currently taking place in Washington, D.C.

In this article, the author notes that the key goal of the United States, currently the country chairing the process, is to broaden the definition of conflict diamonds, a proposal that is reportedly not expected to pass. Such an outcome would be, the author notes, “a failure for the U.S.”

I don’t disagree with that notion; the United States has made it clear that getting something done about the definition of “conflict” diamond--which is 10 years old at this point and outdated--was one of the top priorities in its year as chair. So, yes, if it doesn’t pass, the item certainly won’t go down in history as a huge victory for the United States.

But I don’t think the U.S. as chair will be the only loser if the KP can’t agree on a new definition for conflict.

The entire industry suffers from the long-standing, consensus-only model that prevents the KP from deciding on even the simplest issues without years of arguing. Just one year removed from the long stalemate over Zimbabwe, how do you think the headlines will read when the latest plenary ends if there isn’t any significant progress made on its most pressing issues?

Do you think it will make consumers--who already aren’t exposed to as much generic diamond advertising as in the past--feel more confident about buying diamonds? And, if consumer confidence falls, who fails then? It isn’t just the United States. When the KP flounders, it hurts the industry as a whole.

One more note about failure ... Several paragraphs after the mention of a failure for the United States, the author references the Diamond Source Warranty Protocol, which was introduced in October by Jewelers of America and other U.S.-based organizations, and states that the proposal failed.

The idea behind the protocol, which is entirely voluntary, is to give retailers a tool to use to prevent their vendors from selling them diamonds from countries deemed to be undesirable.

As has been documented, the protocol ignited controversy when it was introduced. But, just to clarify, it has not failed. I talked to Rob Headley with Jewelers of America on Wednesday and he assured me that the protocol (which is beyond being a “proposal” as it already has been written and launched) is up and running and that some retailers already have adopted it.

“We launched it. Retailers are beginning to use it. It is not a failure,” he said.

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