On May 29, 2014, on the eve of the opening of JCK Las Vegas, the world’s largest diamond and jewelry trade show, the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) brought together a unique mix of the international diamond jewelry industry, government officials from diamond producing nations, government dignitaries and celebrities. In D.E.F’s first U.S. based gala event, the organization raised over $1 million dollars to benefit its global mission. D.E.F supports initiatives and programs that help diamond communities throughout the world.
Guests were treated to an intimate performance by music icon Chaka Khan while mingling with celebrities including Jaime King, Otis Williams of the Temptations, Denise Nicholas and pop music artist Mair. The emcee for the evening was Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., civil rights leader and D.E.F. advisor.
D.E.F. presented the 2014 Global Diamond Industry Achievement Award to His Excellency, the Honorable President Ian Khama and the Government of the Republic of Botswana, the largest producer of diamonds by value in the World. Accepting on behalf of the Republic of Botswana, the Honorable Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila stated, “Our mineral wealth is a catalyst for improving the lives of our people. We will always associate with the Diamond Empowerment Fund for the many initiatives they take to ensure countries like ours are able to do what is necessary for its people”. While presenting the award to Minister Mokaila, Michael Barnes, CEO of Signet Jewelers Limited stated “Signet has been a supporter of D.E.F. since its inception in 2007 and we are committed to engaging our peers and our suppliers in D.E.F’s industry-wide initiative of corporate social responsibility. Our customers expect this of us. Our employees and others expect this of us. But quite frankly, we expect this of ourselves. We need to do this because it is the right thing to do”.
The program was opened with welcoming remarks s by D.E.F’s co-founders, Russell Simmons and Philippe Mellier, CEO The De Beers Group of Companies. “I am pleased to welcome the industry leaders to Diamonds in the Sky Las Vegas. Former President Nelson Mandela encouraged us to establish D.E.F to empower people in diamond communities throughout the world. We are here tonight to celebrate that a diamond equals love”, said Russell Simmons. Philippe Mellier reaffirmed this emotional connection, “the diamond moment when a man makes a commitment to a woman that will last a lifetime, drives everything we do. De Beers and Forevermark believe deeply in the power of diamonds to transform communities and build countries and through our five decades of partnership with Botswana we know first hand how diamonds can be harnessed to strengthen a democracy, elevate a people and secure a country’s future. D.E.F. was founded on this premise and as a founding member we continue this legacy of support and partnership through the Forevermark Promise Scholars Program”.
Phyllis Bergman, D.E.F’s President of the Board stated, “Tonight, the monies that we raise will be used not only to enable D.E.F to support our existing beneficiaries, to add new ones & to insure D.E.F’s growth, but to continue to be a progressive and socially conscious organization focused on supporting the good initiatives carried on in all the countries in the world that benefit from the diamond and diamond jewelry business. We will bring this message to consumers globally under our new ‘Diamonds Do Good’ platform”.
Bruno Sané, Global Marketing Director for Rio Tinto Diamonds, introduced D.E.F’s new Global Diamonds Do Good video. Bruno Sané highlighted the importance of D.E.F’s new initiative in communicating to consumers how diamonds have a positive legacy. “We are also here as a sign of commitment that together we will communicate to consumers that diamonds are a global force for good that make a lasting difference for the communities in which we mine, in which we manufacture and sell diamonds.”
Premier Presenting Sponsors of Diamonds in the Sky Las Vegas included, Rio Tinto, Signet Jewelers Limited (Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Zales Jewelers), and The De Beers Group of Companies. Joining them were Premier Partner Sponsor Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Limited, and Premier Patron Sponsors KGK Group, Le Vian Group and Tiffany & Co. Special guests included Alrosa, represented by Vice-President Andrey Polyakov and Dominion Diamonds represented by CEO Robert Gannicott. D.E.F’s Empowerment Circle Partners include; Forevermark, Dalumi Group, Malca-Amit, Brilliant Earth, Exelco (Tolkowsky Diamonds), Leo Schachter Diamonds (The Leo Diamond), Sarine, and Tiffany & Co.