Last month I travelled to Sierra Leone to visit my family and see our diamond mining operations. It’s a journey I love to take as it means so much more than just the stones… being in that beautiful, open country reawakens my passion in my business and reignites my drive to build on the work that we are doing in bringing Zimmi Diamonds to the world stage.
As someone who is always learning about the diamond world, I am always trying to challenge myself and learn more about the industry I am so passionate about. Being at the mines in Sierra Leone and seeing the mining process taking place and the months of hard work it takes to bring the stones out of the ground by hand, it becomes very clear why our stones are so rare and why they have the price tag they do.
As the diamond industry look for ways to offset the environmental impact it makes, I’m proud that our mines in Zimmi and Mano River are committed to being sustainable and sensitive to our environment – my brother and his team are mining riverbeds artisanally so everything goes back into the landscape and our teams are kept small to ensure everything is being done by man rather than machinery.
For half of the year we cannot mine at all due to the rainy season, which means that our “washing season” (our team refer to our mining schedule as the washing season as it is the time when they wash the gravel) is restricted from November to May – which gives the land time to reclaim and nurture itself before the next season begins.
And our long-term commitment is not just to the environment, but also to the communities we work with. Sierra Leone as a country is committed to the Kimberly Process, and the positive benefits that diamond mining has for the people of the country is reflected in how warm, welcoming and happy everyone is that I meet when I’m there.
Not only do we support our communities through funding health and education, but we also reinvest in Sierra Leone and the landowners and village elders who are all a part of our efforts. It is their essential role in our business that ensures we can all build together as a mining community.
So while it was only four days in Africa (and not all of them in the best of health – it may be some time before I eat lobster on the beach again!), it was truly magical to connect with nature and be able to witness how the diamond industry is able to have such a positive effect on the people and communities in Sierra Leone.
Being in Sierra Leone was a long way from my office in Antwerp, but it was humbling and inspiring and invigorating to see the whole journey a diamond takes. Having the insight and opportunity to witness and become a part of the entire story - from the mine to the moment that diamond is given in a beautiful piece of jewellery – makes me appreciate and love my job even more, especially knowing the joy it has given to everyone that is a part of its journey.