By Michelle Graff
De Beers’ Neil Ventura said that allowing other companies to sell rough diamonds on its online auction platform “gives us the opportunity to test the strength of demand for such a service.”
London--De Beers is launching a pilot program that will allow other diamond businesses--miners as well as manufacturers, traders and other entities with diamond inventory--to sell certain types of rough diamonds on its online auction platform.

The service will be limited to single rough diamonds that are bigger than five carats or fancy color. This means that outside companies’ stones will represent a very small proportion of the goods being sold on De Beers’ auction platform but will give the diamond miner and marketer the chance to test the demand for such a service.

A De Beers spokesman said sellers using the platform pay a percentage-based fee of the successful sale price of the stone for use of the service. The size of the fee varies depending on the level of global exposure the seller requests for their goods.

The service is open only to those businesses that meet De Beers’ Auction Sales Rough Diamond Trading Standard, which was just introduced.

The Standard is a set of criteria designed to ensure the rough diamonds sold on De Beers’ platform are ethically sourced and screened to weed out any lab-grown or treated diamonds, neither of which are sold on the platform.

It mandates, among other requirements, that rough diamonds must be accompanied by a legitimate Kimberley Process certificate; that they undergo a three-level screening process to identify any lab-grown and/or treated stone; and that all sellers must accept De Beers Registered Seller Declaration of Compliance, Integrity and Probity.

This pilot program is the latest in a line of changes at De Beers designed to widen the scope of the company’s sales, after years of them being restricted to sightholders.

Last March, De Beers started selling rough diamonds that weren’t offered to, or were refused by, sightholders to “accredited buyers,” and in the fall of 2010 began allowing sightholders to buy rough at its auctions.

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