Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) has announced its cooperation with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the Rapaport Group to ensure an ethical supply of Botswana diamonds to diamond markets.
Rapaport Group launched the Green Star Source Programme which tracks the source of polished diamonds from the producer of rough stones. Polished diamonds sourced from Okavango rough diamonds that are analysed by GIA and issued a GIA Diamond Origin Report (DOR) will now receive Rapaport Green Star certification and designation on RapNet.
Breaking the news of these developments in a statement after participating in a glinting diamond trade fair in the United States, ODC Managing Director Mmetla Masire said the state owned diamond seller is pleased to support the GIA Diamond Origin Grading Reports and the Rapaport Green Star diamond programmes. “When GIA approached us, we were very delighted because we are the largest supplier of rough diamonds and it makes sense because already we send diamonds to GIA, depending on the preference of buyer.”
He noted that ODC considered it a win-win that its diamonds can be certified and given a star rating. “GIA Diamond Origin Reports help provide consumers with the transparent diamond origin information they increasingly demand,” a statement by GIA read. “Analysing rough diamonds for this service at the GIA laboratory in Botswana reinforces the connection between the diamond and its verified source.”
The development comes at a time when provenance is becoming critical in the market. The industry can see the issue of sanctions evolve even further to a point where there will be additional requirements for all natural diamonds entering into the G7. GIA’s Diamond Origin Report Service and Okavango’s ethical sourcing allows Rapaport to issue Green Star certificates for polished diamonds.
The Chairman of the Rapaport Group, Martin Rapaport, said prioritising RapNet Green Star designation will promote price premiums for ethically sourced diamonds. “We are going to provide access to these diamonds using the green start system,” he said when addressing a media briefing in the US. “Having that in the market lets you do price discovery.” “Not only will we have demand that has the green star (but) you will be able to see how they trade separately, differently and better than diamonds without the green star.”
Rapaport believes that premium price is going to drive the market. The fact that retailers can make a higher price for diamonds from a green star than diamonds from a non-source is fundamental. Rapaport thinks the greatness of Botswana lies not just knowing where the goods are coming from but is also in the fact that trading these diamonds will help its people. “We have an entire country that is developing based on diamond revenue,” he said.
“You want to think of diamonds doing good, you have to be proud of what you are selling in your store, having a Botswana diamond and being able to identify that this diamond came from Botswana, which means it makes the world better for someone.” Speaking at same press briefing earlier, Masire said Botswana is possibly the only country whose economy is driven by diamonds in that about 80 percent of its forex earnings are from diamond revenue. “As a country we treasure this and make sure that the benefits and revenue we get from diamonds transform Botswana,” he said, citing the education and health sectors as two of the greatest beneficiaries.
“For many years, Botswana had the highest growth rate continuously because of the diamond industry. All these are direct benefits that we get from diamonds that are mined in Botswana.” He added that buying diamonds that come from Botswana comes with the assurance that they were ethically mined and that the proceeds will benefit the nation. ODC was participating in the JCK 2023 International Gem & Jewellery Show from 2 – 5 June 2023 in Las Vegas, USA which is the biggest meeting place for players and buyers in the diamond industry.
There for the second time, it intensified its marketing and sales efforts for natural diamonds from Botswana and repositioned its business for growth by placing a greater emphasis on provenance. Said Masire: “We have continued to surpass our sales targets on the strength of the throughput of 25 percent of Debswana’s run of mine production. We are happy to have grown substantially both in value and volume.”
Because provenance matters now more than ever, ODC has adopted a new tagline to emphasise the nature and source of its diamonds: “Natural Diamonds from Botswana – Sustainable, Responsible, Impactful.” The Communications Coordinator at ODC, Dennis Tlaang, who was also at the show, stated: “We are thrilled to be at JCK Las Vegas for the second time. We are using this platform to deepen and broaden our diamond sales funnel and show the US industry the amazing benefits of sourcing from ODC.”