Watch & Jewellery
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of De Beers
High jewellery earrings from the 'Talisman' collection by De Beers
A large Canadian rough diamond
'Phenomena Frost' high jewellery necklace by De Beers
Rough fancy coloured diamonds from De Beers
Making of the 'Imaginary Nature' high jewellery collection
The De Beers marque
De Beers' 2020 high jewellery campaign

You probably know everything there is to know about a diamond by now, from the 4Cs of grading to even the familiar saying that “a diamond is forever” (popularised by De Beers over seven decades ago, by the way). What you probably also know is that the most beautiful natural diamonds in the world come in extremely limited supply due to its lengthy development timeline, which requires between one and a few billion years of waiting time. And if your calculation is spot on, some are even older than the stars up above. Now, De Beers – the world’s largest supplier of diamonds – is reminding us that though beautiful diamonds are rare, those that come with a full disclosure of its journey from its beginnings under the soil to the final designs on your finger or neckline are just that much rarer. De Beers is transparent about its values, empathising with consumers concerned about any bad rep a gem can inadvertently symbolise if it is attained via unscrupulous means or bad mining practices. To curb concerns, the jeweller has vouched to go beyond the 4Cs of grading, adding four more values to its guidelines through a commitment it has termed as Building Forever. We pore through the four pillars of De Beers that even any keen buyer of jewellery in 2020 ought to ask their jeweller:


Elephants roaming the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, part of the Diamond Route in South Africa.

De Beers isn't secretive about where it mines its most precious diamonds. In fact, it wants you to know that it owns mines in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Canada which means when you're dealing with this jeweller you can rest assure that it has seen the diamond from its roughest state to its most polished. But why is it important to know where they come from? Beyond just acknowledging the birthplace of the gem, one of the biggest questions that any jewellery connoisseur should be asking is what the jeweller is doing in giving back to the planet. After all, extensive mining does take a toll on the earth and its inhabitants. Take De Beers' South African operations for an example, a location responsible for plenty of its fancy coloured diamond finds. It has actively set aside six hectares for conservation for every hectare affected by mining activity. It even works with conservation partners to support the wildlife in the area to ensure its animals continue to thrive.


School children in the playground of Acacia Primary School, Jwaneng, Botswana.

Even the most beautiful diamonds would remain undiscovered if not for the abled hands and minds that help to bring them to the surface. De Beers acknowledges that in order to thrive as a business, the support of the local community is a fundamental part of its mining story. That means a large part of this labour intensive process is helmed by locals. In its Botswana operations, for example, over 98 per cent of the workforce comes from the local community which in turn ensures that there is a proper livelihood and education for thousands and their families.


Employees playing Morabaraba at the Jwaneng Mine, Botswana.

Gender representation and equal opportunities have become a fundamental topic of our times. De Beers is a huge supporter in challenging gender stereotypes and offering financial and educational aid in ensuring that women have opportunities to succeed. The company has worked together with UN Women since 2017 and has pledged over US$3 million in that period, benefiting more than 700 women small-scale micro-entrepreneurs in Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia. Furthermore, De Beers has also actively sponsored educational scholarships for female high school and university students from indigenous communities around its mines in Canada and Southern Africa.


Having a large workforce with over 350,000 employees, De Beers adheres to strict guidelines in ensuring that it continues to protect human rights and encourage good work place conditions. This is extremely important for the largest supplier of diamonds in the world as it sets a precedence for the rest of the industry, a heavy responsibility that De Beers is well aware of. The same goes for its diamonds, which are ethically produced and 100 per cent conflict-free. Such is the stringent procedures set by the company that all diamonds above 0.2 carat can be traced back to its source via a reference number that is pegged to its registry. How that works is that each diamond has been microscopically branded with the De Beers Marque – a logo and unique diamond reference number. This means that even if a valuable diamond jewellery has been lost, there is a possibility that it can even be traced back to its original owner. Each diamond comes with its own paper work which certifies that it is natural, untreated, and sourced responsibly.

0.62 carat, cushion-cut fancy intense purplish pink diamond

Remember that a beautiful diamond always begins with a beautiful rough – and this isn’t just some catchy marketing slogan but simply a matter of fact. How the rough has been treated as an infant determines its future potential. And at De Beers, every diamond that goes through its care is recognised, pampered, and never forgotten. This connection to the rough is evident even in the way it cuts and polishes the stone. De Beers makes calculated moves in determining the final shape of the diamond by thoroughly studying the rough. Like the masterful work of a sculptor chiselling marble, it will always cut the diamond to magnify and maximise the hidden beauty of the gem rather than for the sake of making a certain weight (a falsehood is that the higher the number of carats the more valuable or attractive a diamond is). Even the rarest of coloured diamonds mined by De Beers are treated in the same manner too. An example of this is a pink rough originating from Namibia that was cut from 1.15 carat into a 0.62 carat.  And just remember this when you’re peeking at your diamond buy: most diamonds might look good to the naked eye but its physical appearance isn’t a true testimonial of its character.

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