U.S., Sierra Leone Venture to Open Diamond Plant

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(Rapaport…April 3, 2006) New York-based Finesse Diamonds, a company focused upon manufacturing, branding and marketing jewelry, has teamed up with Sierre Leone’s Celedove Global Industries to form Finesse-Celedove, a joint venture that will develop Sierra Leone’s first diamond cutting and polishing plant, reported Awareness Times.

The plant is scheduled to open by late July and will initially hire 100 local people, half of which will be trained in diamond cutting and polishing.

Finesse Diamonds will finance the factory, which is expected to have a polishing capacity of more than 36,000 carats a year, earning some $50 million in value annually. Finesse-Celedove plans to produce the first Sierra Leone cut diamond within three days of the plant’s opening and will open additional polishing plants in Sierra Leone’s mining regions in the coming months.

Vice president of Finesse Diamonds, Alex Twersky, said that the only way Sierra Leone can truly add value to its diamonds is by cutting and polishing them locally. “This will mean job creation and spinning of business in jewelry manufacturing and an increase in tax revenue and foreign exchange reserve,” said Twersky.

The company will work with USAID and other non-governmental organizations as well as advocates of Just Mining to monitor specific areas of diamond mining in the country. Miners and diggers working for Finesse-Celedove will operate exclusively under verifiable and independently monitored fair trade contracts. These contracts will assure payment of fair wages and bonuses, adherence to strong health and safety standards, the total prohibition of child labor, environmental rehabilitation of mining sites, and support for community development projects.

According to Finesse-Celedove, fair trade diamond mining operations will result in a decrease of smuggling. Diggers and miners will have incentive to sell diamonds legally in Sierra Leone when there is a transparent buying policy and fair prices.

“Our commitment to pricing, transparency and fair trade standards is so strong —-so much a part of the brand identity we intend to develop-— that we’re working closely with USAID, local NGOs and other advocates to help us set and monitor specific operating standards that will guarantee real equity and fairness for our diggers, miners and polishers,” said Twersky.

“We see the Kimberley Process of assuring non-conflict diamonds as the first step in the evolution of humane diamonds. Real transparency and fair trade are the next critical steps,” he said.

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