(Rapaport…October 11, 2001) Supporters of the Clean Diamonds Trade Act and its Senate companion bill addressed the House Trade subcommittee on October 10, urging members to pass the legislation before the end of the current Congressional session, which concludes in just a few days. Cecilia Gardner, executive director of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) and general counsel of the World Diamond Council (WDC) and Matthew Runci, president and CEO of Jewelers of America (JA) and executive director of the WDC, both spoke to members of the subcommittee – part of the House Ways and Means Committee – in an attempt to make passage of the bills a priority during a time when most legislative attention is being given to matters concerning the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The bill pending in the House (H.R. 2722) and its Senate companion bill (S. 1084) would bar the importation of conflict diamonds to the U.S. and put in place a tracking system to keep them out of the global supply chain.
Gardner pointed out that while there are many points of agreement, the process of effectively implementing goals is still incomplete.
“Members of Congress know that it is very unusual for any industry to request government intervention in its affairs,” Gardner said. “But conflict diamonds pose a very unusual menace. The industry has gone a long way toward meeting this challenge. Now the government’s assistance is necessary to finish the job.”
Acknowledging that stopping the flow of conflict diamonds is first and foremost a moral imperative, Runci also discussed some of the other implications that conflict diamonds have for the jewelry industry.
“The fact remains that – as of today – it is impossible for a retail jeweler to tell a customer with absolute certainty whether a particular stone offered for sale is conflict free,” Runci said. “So there is a cloud over our industry casting a shadow not only on American retail establishments but also on all segments of the industry here and abroad.”
Transcripts of Runci and Gardner’s testimony are available in their entirety at: http://www.diamonds.net/news/gardner