Diamonds are forever

A recent talk provided expert opinions on different notions regarding diamonds and how these gems impact our society.

14 October 2019 | Local News

Tom Alweendo; Minister of Mines and Energy; “We have to urge people to buy natural diamonds as they contribute to our economy.”

Swakopmund • Adolf Kaure

A panel discussion on the future of Namibian diamonds took place at The Dome in Swakopmund recently.

The discussion, which was initiated by Eagle FM as part of the Swakopmund International Trade Expo (SWAiTEX), was held under the theme “Are diamonds forever?” and featured panelists such as the Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo, CEO of the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) Brent Uiseb, the CEO of NAMDIA Kennedy Hamutenya, as well as the chairperson of the Diamond Manufacturers’ Association Ofer Babluki.
One of the key topics that was discussed, was synthetic diamonds and how they affect natural diamonds.

According to NDTC’s Brent Uiseb, some people say that synthetic diamonds are a threat while others feel they are an opportunity. “The way we market these synthetic diamonds, is what will determine whether they are an opportunity or a threat.”

Uiseb said that Namibia needs to convey the message that natural diamonds contribute to other sectors and to Namibia’s economy. “People value natural diamonds more as they go through a long process of to form, and this carries a greater sentimental value than synthetic diamonds. Lab grown diamonds have a place in the market as long as they are passed on as lab grown diamonds and not as natural diamonds.”

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, said that as long as people know whether a diamond is natural or synthetic, they can choose which one they want. “However, as a diamond producing country, we have to urge people to buy natural diamonds as they contribute to our economy.”

The mining sector contributes 14% of Namibia’s GDP, of which the diamond industry contributes the bulk.

Other topics discussed include how Namibia can become more competitive in terms of cutting, polishing as well as creating its own jewellery from diamonds, and how the SME sector can benefit from the diamond industry.

“We need to make sure that policies including legislation encourage investors and businesses to tap into our diamond industry and use skills acquired to be more competitive,” Alweendo said, challenging NAMDIA to host a fashion week that will showcase local diamonds.

In terms of involving the SME sector, Uiseb said that there should be more colleges and institutions teaching people how to cut, polish and turn these gems into jewellery.

Diamonds were discovered in Namibia about 110 years ago.