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Will this film hit diamond sales?

December 30, 2006 13:24 IST
The latest Leonardo Di Caprio starrer 'Blood Diamond' opened across the United States on December 8, coinciding with the pre-Christmas peak-shopping season.

The diamond industry (the US makes up two-thirds of the global market) is concerned about the film's impact on business, as it tells a violent story of how Africans, in diamond-producing countries suffered as the precious stones were used to fund brutal civil wars.

But the impact on India, the biggest producer of polished diamonds, may not be known until early next year.

The much talked about film 'Blood Diamond' accuses the diamond industry of profiting from the misery of civil war ravaged Africans, through the trade in conflict diamonds – stones that are traded illegally to fund conflict in war-torn areas. India is briefly shown in the film as a destination for conflict diamonds to be cut and polished.

 But the World Diamond Council, a global industry group, points out India, which will take over as the vice chair of the Kimberley Process Certification System next year, is a strong supporter of the United Nations-backed mechanism launched in 2003 to eliminate trading in conflict diamonds.

General Counsel, US Kimberley Process Authority, Cecilia Gardner told SAW, "India has been so proactive in this area for years now. It has gone even further by agreeing to take on the responsibility of running the Kimberley Process, you have got a terrific story to tell."

Here in New York's Diamond District, over 300 Indian-owned businesses trade around $8 billion worth of diamonds every year. Their source is mostly India, where 90 per cent of all the world's diamonds are cut and polished. The entire industry is now bracing for a possible impact on business thanks to the film 'Blood Diamond'.

Director, Diamond Dealers Club, Basant Johari says, "This is the peak season of sales for jewellery. The goods are already in the jewellery stores. So, the production aspect has already been done, goods have been delivered to the stores. If there is any effect, it will show up in the sales of the retailers. And if there is any loss of sales on the retailers' portion, that will affect the re-orders coming to India. So, if there's any effect we'll see it in January."

The World Diamond Council says over 99 per cent of the world's diamonds are now conflict-free. So far, reports show diamond sales holding steady in the wake of Blood Diamond's release in the US. The film's international release is set for early 2007.

Diamonds may be forever, but the multi-billion dollar industry is hoping that the negative fallout from the movie Blood Diamond won't last that long.

Indira Kannan,