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Hawaii-Ndilo connection?

Deton'Cho diamonds drawing plenty of U.S. attention

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 20/02) - It was an indication of how aware the world is becoming of the North and its diamonds.

Last week, the gemologist for Hawaii's biggest jeweller, Pacific Diamond and Swiss Watch Exchange, was in town to discuss deals with Deton' Cho Diamonds.

"It's about what kind of steady flow we can get and how we can market them," said Mark Jones of his trip North from the Pacific island state.

Jones said he first heard about Northern diamonds at Sirius Diamonds display at a 1998 gem and mineral show in Tuscon, Ariz.

Deton'Cho diamonds vice president Frans Vanlooy said interest is building.

"The awareness is coming, it's waking up a little bit," Vanlooy said of the approaches from potential clients. There has been far more interest from the U.S. than from Canada, he added.

Pacific Diamond is looking for an edge up on its competition by buying direct from the manufacture, Jones said.

Vanlooy said the U.S. interest likely has to do with a growing awareness of the political and human turmoil that surrounds diamond mining in other countries, such as Sierra Leone.

The terms "blood diamonds" and "conflict diamonds" have become an increasingly common part of the lexicon, thanks to stories by media outlets such as the popular CBS TV news magazine show 60 Minutes.

"It's becoming a real big problem (with consumers)," Jones said.

"Hopefully NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) will be our friend up here," he added.