Claude Cardone

Diamonds: The Most Influential People Of the Decade.

Diamonds Standards Organization honors the commitment of the professionals around the world whose outstanding work in the last decade contributed to create ethical awareness in the diamond and jewellery sectors and helped promote the entire industry.

Claude Cardone is President of Monaco Diamond Exchange, President of Chambre Monegasque de Joaillerie et Horlogerie; he has been President and Managing Director of Creations Lizhel for over thre decades; he is President of Monaco Gold Exchange and President of Monaco Luxury Security. Mr Cardone received the Honorary Membership.

Why is ethical sourcing important in a modern society?
Conflict diamonds have a negative impact on the communities where diamonds are produced and create social and political instability. It is therefore essential in modern times to be aware of the consequences that diamond purchases have and we have the moral responsibility to ensure that only conflict-free diamonds reach consumers and investors. If diamonds are purchased according to the ethical standards, then their effect on mining producing countries is constructive and help those communities to develop and grow.

Why informing customers that their purchase conforms to ethical standards has become a necessity?
Today customers, particularly Millennials, learnt about the effects that their purchases cause. It is therefore paramount to ensure that they are well informed and that they trust the source. We all need to overcome at point-of-sale the resistance that end-consumers may have developed over ethical compliance and any tool that reassures the clients becomes instrumental to closing the sale. It is in fact in our interest to ensure that we build confidenceamongst consumers and that we demonstrate transparency over the processes that concern the trade, cutting and mounting of precious gemstones.

What is your background?
We have been specialists in diamond jewelry for many years. The company Créations Lizhel dates from 1987 and our offices are located in Monaco. We source all the diamonds ourselves and this enables us to control provenance and operate in full respect of ethical sourcing normative. Our creations use the smallest diamonds, but in recent years investment grade diamond sales increased and currently represents 30% of our activity. We work with all types of different customers. Today, our organization can adapt to the most demanding, so we cater to both mass distribution and Place Vendôme. Tens of thousands of diamonds are sold each year.

What is your area of focus?
Ethical sourcing is surely a main focus for us at Monaco Diamond Exchange and monitoring the afflux of conflict diamonds into mainstream markets is not only a legal obligation, but a moral responsibility. This is also achieved through customers education; today, particularly in retail, it has become essential to be able to reassure customers that they are buying natural ethically sourced gemstones and ethical certification plays and will increasingly play a major role.

“We all need to overcome at point-of-sale the resistance that end-consumers may have developed over ethical compliance,,

How would you describe the last ten years?
The last decade was marked by global financial instability and this was reflected also in the jewellery sector. Consumers’ ability to purchase was restricted by lack of credit from banks, transparency banking new regulations and anti-money laundering regulations. Although some initiatives are welcome and in line with ever evolving global markets, some aspects crystalized commerce and restricted historical abilities of physical assets to be wealth vehicles. Luckily for our trade, diamonds remained the wealth carrier of choice and it overcame the challenges. The end of the previous decade and the beginning of last decade clearlyindicated the path for diamonds and their evolution from a luxury consumer product to a commodity status; diamonds prices and appreciation reflected this, however, macroeconomics and the financial crisis only delayed this inevitable process which will surely come back to be.

“ Ethical sourcing […] is not only a legal obligation, but a moral responisibility ,,

What can we expect in the next decade?
The industry is rapidly changing and we have seen technology becoming a decisive factor, whether it is about showing a diamond on the internet with 360 degrees view, listing and sharing stockpiles or tracing rough diamonds through blockchains. The decade ahead of us will further grow in this high-tech direction and it will be increasingly beneficial for the whole sector. Specifically to diamonds and diamond jewellery, a growing gap between supply and demand driven by the depletion of key producing mines will positively affect pricing and over the next decades will cement the position of natural diamonds as a commodity.

On a more personal note, what is your favourite shape?
Round brilliant.

What is your favourite diamond color?
Colorless diamonds remain my favourite.

What is your favourite gemstone?
Diamonds over any other gemstone.

What is your favourite jewllery brand and why?
Graff for their uncompromised approach.

What is your favourite watch brand and what model most attracts you?
Rolex, Patek and Audemars.