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51 posts from March 2005

Amnesty International: Diamonds before Indians

Amnesty International Wednesday accused the Brazilian Government of failing to guarantee and enforce the rights of Brazilian Indians to their lands, leaving indigenous people poverty-stricken, and generating the hostilities which led to the massacre of 29 illegal diamond miners a year ago.

The Amnesty study "Foreigners in our own country": Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, which was released Wednesday, asserts that the campaign of violence against Brazilian Indians has involved businesses and prospectors who mine in indigenous territories as well as ranchers, logging companies and the military.

"Impunity for human rights violations in Brazil is pervasive and persistent," Amnesty International asserted. "In addition to the violence that is so often generated in the context of land disputes, Indians also suffer when there is a failure by the State to protect them from invaders on their land, as was the case in the Cinta Larga Roosevelt territory in 2004."

Cinta Larga Indians allegedly massacred 29 illegal diamond miners last April in what is believed to be a dispute over mining revenues. Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry estimated that $2 billion worth of diamonds have been mined on the 2.7-million hectare reserve. The massacre generated questions concerning who owns the region's mineral resources, what law applies on the reservation, and when and how mining exploration may be conducted on indigenous lands.

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Real diamonds for the mistress...

IT IS not just human males who seduce prospective paramours with expensive gifts while bringing home cheap trinkets for their long-term partners. Some male birds do it too.

Great grey shrikes mate for life and raise offspring each breeding season. But the males also sneak away and mate with other females. To charm both long-term partners and mistresses the males offer gifts of food.

To test whether the males put more effort into their dalliances than their "marriages", Piotr Tryjanowski at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and Martin Hromada at the University of South Bohemia in Ceské Budejovice, the Czech Republic, recorded gifts made by 22 male shrikes to their partners and mistresses. They found that the average energy content of a gift to a mistress was 75 kilojoules, while gifts given to partners averaged about 19 kilojoules. Males often caught lizards, voles and other birds for their mistresses, which required six times as much effort to catch as the insects that they gave their partners (Animal Behaviour, vol 69, p 529). "It is like a saying in Polish," says Tryjanowski. "Artificial jewellery to the wife and real diamonds for the mistress."

From issue 2493 of New Scientist magazine, 02 April 2005, page 19

Diamonds are (still) a girl’s best friend

Sounds clichéd, but diamonds are a girl’s best friends. The line, immortalised by Marilyn Monroe in the evergreen song from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, holds true more than ever today for the Indian woman of substance. More and more working women are sporting the rock on the neck, flaunting it on the nose and the ear.

Figures indicate as much. Over the past three years, the diamond industry has grown “by 20 per cent annually”, as Manoj Bhargava, director (operations), Dwarka Gems, points out. “One big reason is that the precious stone has become more affordable,” he adds.

And it’s not just the affordability. The onslaught of numerous brands have made the consumer more knowledgeable and aware about cuts, clarity, carat and colours — the four Cs that dictate the buying of a diamond. Also, more and more consumers are now aware of the resale value of diamonds. Consumers are no longer scared to invest in the rock.

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U.N. worries about Liberia's diamonds

A United Nations panel said Tuesday Liberia's diamond trade is illegally controlled by a secret monopoly.

The company is of "unknown provenance and with no mining sector experience," said a U.N. Security Council report. The report said the company's official name is the West Africa Mining Corporation, with supposed financial backing from the privately owned London International Bank Ltd.

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De Beers to provide value-added services

De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer, said Tuesday that it was branching out into value-added services and would launch its own consultancy business.
The announcement was made by Gareth Penny, managing director of the Diamond Trading Company to clients at the third sight, or sale, of the year in London, the Financial Times reports.

"We see a huge opportunity in expanding in services and support and no longer just selling our products," Penny reportedly said. "The idea is to use our expertise to ensure our clients can maximize the value of the products they sell."

From the middle of the year De Beers will offer two-and-a-half-year contracts to its sightholders, or clients, to assist with planning, marketing, key account management, and implementing best practice systems, the publication reports. The DTC's value-added services will consist of core services, a set of supply planning tools provided to all sightholders for a fee, and growth services, which include business sustainability measures such as demand generation and consumer confidence programs.

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The Natural History Museum in London is to host an exhibition showcasing some of the world’s most impressive diamonds from stunning historic pieces to the latest in modern designs, alongside cutting-edge science and technology from summer 2005 to early 2006.

At the exhibition, sponsored by the Steinmetz Diamond Group and the Diamond Trading Company, the museum will display its collection from the nineteenth-century ‘diamond rush’ for the first time.

$7M in diamonds taken from NYC store

Two men posing as FedEx deliverymen allegedly stole $7 million worth of diamonds from a diamond district wholesaler in New York City, officials said.

The Good Friday theft occurred when security in the diamond district may have been relaxed because many jewelers were closed, sources told the New York Post.

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Gems & jewellery sector awaits new shine

The gems and jewellery industry is upbeat, expecting favourable announcements in the foreign trade policy.

Top of the agenda is the reduction of import duty on low carat jewellery and creation of a system to provide better service to the global consumer.

Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council chairman Bakul Mehta said, "The industry has seen 15-20% of steady growth in the past couple of years and the trend will continue. There are some policy issues which we have already conveyed to the central government and are expecting positive announcements in the coming trade policy".

The industry has yet to introduce and implement application of new technologies that will help simultaneously in marketing the product along with providing efficient service. With existing resources and expertise in the field of jewellery manufacturing, diamond, coloured stones and base metal market, the industry is now focusing its efforts in devising specialised mechanism to serve tailor-made requirements of the customer. "We are looking towards implementing an online selling mechanism of gem, jewellery and diamonds that will not only increase service capability but will also help in increasing revenue for the industry."

The Exim policy in 2004 had assured steps to reduce transaction cost to a minimum and allow duty free import of rejected jewellery up to 2% of FOB value of exports.

The gems and jewellery exports comprise diamonds, gemstones, gold jewellery, pearls, non-gold jewellery and synthetic stones. Breaking the shackles of being an ethnic and conventional industry, the industry has set growth standards in the past couple of years. The total exports of Indian gem and jewellery industry during January-December 2004 touched $14,329.23 million and registered a growth of 37.88%, compared to $10,392.83 million the previous year.

Registering a steady growth, exports surged from $5,258 million in 1996-97 to $8,905 million in 2002-03. Experts estimate that the exports may touch $20 billion by 2008.

India today occupies top position in importing, processing and exporting diamonds. In 2002-03, of the total industry exports, the diamond market contributed $6,742 million.

ALROSA sells diamonds produced in Angola

ALROSA, Russia's largest diamond producer, has started selling diamonds mined at the Catoca deposit in Angola. As the company's vice president Dmitry Novikov reported, last night, a consignment of diamonds worth $22m was sent to ALROSA's subsidiary in Belgium. ALROSA will hold an open auction of these gems in Europe at the end of April.

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Diamonds: Did You Know?

Diamonds are minerals which consists of carbon packed into a tight crystalline form. The light entering the mineral's top part once it was cut gives it that sparkling glow once it also goes out on the same part. There are several forms of diamonds. They are diamond proper, bort, ballas and carbonado. Diamond proper is known as the crystalline gemstone. Borts are tough, dark-colored, imperfectly crystallized diamonds. Ballas ones are compact and tough while carbonado are carbon-colored ones without slants.

Their 10-rating based on a scale of 1 to 10 makes them the hardest substance on earth, as recorded by the mohs hardness scale. This was invented by German minerologist Friedrich Mohs. Yet the hardness of a diamond's surface depends on its cut.

A diamond has many properties. One of it is color: colorless, yellow, brown, green, blue and the rarest of all, the red ones. Some elements consisting of just a small portion in a diamond gives its color. Other properties include brilliance, fire, luster and fluorescent glow once diamonds are struck by sunlight. It results in the light blue, milky white and red shine in other gems. They are also cold when touched and acid-resistant.

The exact origin of diamonds are still unknown but researchers theorized that extreme pressure and heat are involved in the formation of diamonds. Magma inside a volcano is probably where diamonds originate. Once extreme heat and pressure mixes, an eruption occurs and hence, the pipes characteristic of diamonds are blown upward and take form in sedimentary rocks. Some diamonds are also found in meteorites in its graphite form.

Some diamonds can be found underwater which was near where these mineral deposits came from. Others can be found in other minerals like sandstones, conglomerates, etc. which were once a part of the alluvial deposits during the earlier era when geologic changes took place.

Extremely small-sized diamonds known as hexagonal diamonds were found in meteorites. They were similar to the common cubic diamonds but its angle has been turned to about 60 degrees from the cubic diamond's position. These hexagonal diamonds are contained in the graphite form of meteorites during impact to the earth's atmosphere. They are blended in extremely hot temperatures.

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