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Q&A with Neil Ventura, Auction Sales, De Beers Group




Diamond mining giant De Beers has recently launched online auction platform for their own polished diamonds as well as exceptional polished diamonds from verified third parties. The online polished diamond auction platform has the potential to become a reliable and ethical sourcing destination for the retailers looking for diamonds with quality and desired specifications. In an email interview with Niladri S Nath, Neil Ventura, Executive Vice President of Auction Sales, De Beers Group talks more about this one of its kind initiative.

TRJ: De Beers got into the online polished diamond auction sales in July this year. How has been journey so far? How has been response so far from the market?

Nein Ventura (NV): We started two different types of polished diamond auction activities earlier this year – one was a pilot for auctioning our own polished diamonds that have been polished from De Beers rough diamonds; the other was for third parties to use our auction platform to sell their exceptional polished diamonds. We’ve been really pleased with the early response to both the initiatives so far. A key benefit of our platform is that it provides buyers with access to responsibly sourced, natural and untreated diamonds. For sellers, it’s the truly global customer base in all geographies.

TRJ: What led to the launch of the online auction platform?

NV: We have heard before from a number of businesses we work with that they would benefit from having a more efficient, ‘one stop shop’ sourcing opportunity for both rough and polished. Our platform has excellent capability for selling both.

We’ve learnt that the easier we can make it for our customers – with reduced travel requirements, lower sourcing costs, more efficiency, greater levels of availability, etc. – the better it is for them.

We had already started an initiative for customers to sell their rough diamonds on our platform, so moving to third party polished sales was a fairly obvious next step to try. With our own polished diamonds, we had these available to sell as the result of some contract manufacturing we’d had done to assess the polished outcomes of our rough. It then made commercial sense for us to use our own platform to sell these goods and to see if it had a positive response from customers.

TRJ: How is De Beers ensuring the quality assurance of the polished diamonds that are placed on the auction for bidding?

NV: When third parties look to sell their polished diamonds on our platform, they have to meet some exacting standards beforehand. We feel this gives us the opportunity to continue to raise the bar in the sector and to ensure that what is sold on our platform meets the expectations of polished buyers looking to purchase responsibly sourced, natural and untreated diamonds. Any registered seller on our platform must meet our compliance requirements in three main areas- Registered seller integrity which demonstrates commitment to ethical business practices, the next one is DBAS Source of Origin Provenance Claim and the third one is product disclosure.

TRJ: How does the online auction platform function?

Before bidding in an online process whereby there is a competitive process for all those interested in purchasing a particular lot we provide bidders with information about the bid levels. It allows them to have full control over their participation in the auction so that at no point do the feel that they are overextending themselves. Our buyers come from all of the key global diamond trading centres and they participate in the auctions by viewing goods in one of several international viewing locations,

TDB: What’s your future plan as far as expanding the reach of the online polished diamond auction platform and the offering bandwidth?

NV: We are still in the early stages of our polished diamond auction pilot and we will continue to see how things go before deciding on what the commercial future of the approach will be. We have certainly been encouraged, however, so we are continuing to undertake sales at regular intervals. At the moment we are engaging with our existing customer base through direct interaction, and if any business is interested in registering as either a buyer or seller, we would be delighted to work with them and ensure they’re kept abreast of the latest activity.


Compliance measures to be a registered seller on De beers online Auction Platform

First one is registered seller integrity. Upstream producers, midstream businesses (sightholders and non-sightholders) and downstream retailers wishing to register as a Registered Seller are required to demonstrate commitment to ethical business practices through participation in the De Beers Best Practice Principles Programme or certified membership of the Responsible Jewellery Council. Industry lenders wishing to register as Registered Sellers are required to demonstrate commitment to ethical business practice through membership of the United Nations Global Compact.

The next one is DBAS Source of Origin Provenance Claim. For rough diamonds – DBAS has established strict provisions on the provenance of the rough diamonds sold on its platform, building on compliance with the Kimberley Process and ensuring the diamonds have not contributed to conflict or human rights violations, to ensure the integrity of the product being sold through the platform. These strict provisions form the DBAS Source of Origin Provenance claim. For polished diamonds: In addition to the above, there are additional requirements for Registered Sellers wishing to sell polished diamonds through the service. Registered Sellers will need to provide a full set of manufacturing files along with fluorescence and colour estimations.

The third one is product disclosure. All diamonds will undergo a rigorous screening process to -stem the flow of any smuggled or conflict diamonds into the legitimate diamond trade. And to ensure that its Source of Origin Provenance Criteria are met, DBAS uses the Kimberley Process foot-printing guidance to verify each diamond is reviewed before it is approved for sale on the DBAS auction platform. The process also ensures ensure that there are no undisclosed synthetic or treated diamonds sold on the platform through using synthetic diamond and treatment detection equipment for verification.


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