The Operations department controls a number of critical departments within the company such the Information Technology, Diamond Risk Management, Diamond Audit, Technical, the Diamond Academy (training) and the core business functions of diamond sorting and valuation.
The Diamond Academy is the company’s training department, which offers rough diamond sorting training to new employees and shares industry information with staff members. To ensure the diamond industry benefits from the rare skills in sorting and valuations of rough diamonds, the Academy has extended the training to members of the Protected Resources Unit (PRU) of the Namibian Police; Sightholders; Ministry of Mines and Energy and members of the De Beers Group of Companies in Namibia.
Other activities within the department include maintaining safety at the work place and ensuring that all policies and procedures are being adhered to.
The Sorting Process
Rough diamond sorting is a unique skill that includes categorising diamonds according to the Four C’s: Clarity (Quality); Cut (Shape of the diamond); Colour and Carat-Weight (Size). There are over 12 000 price categories in which rough diamonds are sorted.
When diamonds first arrive at NDTC, they are covered with dirt and other non-diamond material. Diamonds that are mined at sea or marine diamonds are covered by a slimy greasy layer of dirt.
Diamonds have many properties that set them apart from all other minerals and one of them is the ability to resist abrasion by chemicals. This property allows diamonds to be cleaned with the strongest of acids without ever damaging it.
Once all cleaned, the next process is to divide them in different sizes. Sizing is one way to determine the value of a diamond, therefore, it forms part of the four C’s (Carat-weight) valuing process. It is very important to determine the size as this has a huge barring on a price. The larger the diamonds, the more expensive it would be, having in mind the remaining three C’s (Colour, Clarity and Cut).
The NDTC follows a unique diamond sorting system, which divides diamonds in approximately 12 000 price categories according to the four C’s. These categories are linked to a pricing structure that was developed by the Diamond Trading Company International (DTCi) in the UK, and is used by all De Beers Group of companies with the same functions.
Highly trained NDTC sorters, segregate diamonds with a minimal error rate to ensure consistency across all De Beers Group of Companies.
In the negotiation phase, the diamonds are assessed by Government and DTC Valuators, who ensure that the sorted diamonds are correctly priced. Both teams negotiate on the assortment (not on price) using an agreed sample, which is a set guideline for each price category to guarantee that the right price per category is obtained.
Upon the completion of the negotiation process, 10% of the Namibian diamonds by value are set aside to sell to local Sightholders (NDTC clients) with cutting and polishing factories in Namibia. The remaining 90% is then prepared for export, whiles the Protective Resources Unit (PRU- Police) supervises the packing and sealing process.
DTCi purchases the remaining 90% and aggregate like-for-like descriptions with diamonds from diamond-producing countries where De Beers has mining interests such as South Africa, Botswana and Canada. NDTC supplement the limited supply of Namibian diamonds to the Sightholders by purchasing aggregated diamonds from DTCi and sell it for the purpose of local beneficiation to its clients.
The aggregation function has now moved to Gaborone after around 8 decades in London.
A DIAMOND JOURNEY
DISTINGUISHING NAMIBIA’s VALUE THROUGH DIAMONDS