JA Launches Conflict Diamonds Bill Lobbying Campaign

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The following is the full-text of the JA press release announcing its grassroots lobbying effort to support the conflict diamonds bills currently before Congress:

August 15, 2001

Jewelers of America (JA) is launching a grass-roots campaign to lobby for passage of conflict diamonds legislation pending in Congress. JA is asking for the support of its members, its state and regional affiliates, other industry associations, all jewelers, and major retail corporations who sell jewelry.

On August 2, H.R. 2722 was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Amo Houghton (R-New York), Charles Rangel (D-New York), Tony Hall (D-Ohio), and Frank Wolf (R-Virginia). This measure is a companion bill to S. 1084, which was introduced into the Senate by Dick Durbin (R-Illinois), Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) in June.

Both bills support the establishment of a global rough diamond certification system designed to purge conflict diamonds from the legitimate trade supply. These pieces of legislation have the support of JA and the World Diamond Council, legislators who previously backed alternate bills, and a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) known as the Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds.

“These bills now before the Senate and the House represent a consensus between the jewelry industry, members of Congress, and the NGOs,” said JA President and CEO Matthew A. Runci. “All of the parties concerned with this important issue now stand on common ground in terms of the legislation necessary to resolve the problem of conflict diamonds.”

“There is a critical challenge ahead,” Runci said. “We must secure enactment of this legislation in the relatively brief period between the time Congress reconvenes after Labor Day and its adjournment in late autumn. This task will require considerable effort by all members of the industry. That is why JA is asking its membership, its affiliates, industr associations, jewelers, and major retailers to lobby for passage of this legislation.”

JA urges jewelers in all segments of the industry to call and write their U.S.

Representatives and U.S. Senators to show them the entire industry is behind H.R. 2722 and S. 1084. To facilitate these communications, JA recently sent its membership a packet of materials including sample letters and a tip sheet for phone calls.

“It is imperative that jewelers be in touch with their Representatives and Senators with phone calls and letters in support of H.R. 2722 and S. 1084,” Runci said. “A letter would also serve as a written record of a jeweler’s position and action taken on the conflict diamonds issue. A retailer could use this correspondence as proof to assure customers of their position and their commitment to finding a solution. All jewelry retailers — not just JA members — are invited and encouraged to participate in this grass-roots campaign.”

“Enactment of this legislation will allow jewelers, once and for all, to assure their customers that the diamonds they sell are free from taint,” Runci said.

More information on conflict diamonds, along with the materials and tools to help retailers with this issue, can be found on the conflict diamonds section of the JA Web site, www.jewelers.org.

Jewelers are also welcome to contact JA at 800-223-0673.

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