Eira Thomas

Premiering this week, “Fashionscapes: The Diamonds of Botswana,” a short film from Eco-Age, will follow Livia Firth as she visits Botswana to learn about the impact of the diamond mining industry, the supply chains and the women on the ground.

Botswana’s diamond mines have recovered many of the world’s most precious — and largest — stones.

Early this year, Lucara Diamond Corp. sparked international buzz as they entered into a collaboration with Louis Vuitton and the HB Company to manufacture a record-setting, 1,758-carat diamond recovered in its Karowe diamond mine in Botswana. The diamond is only the second 1,000-plus carat diamond ever recovered from Karowe and the largest to have been recovered in Botswana.

The Diamond Producers Association, of which Lucara Diamond Corp. is a member, has encouraged best practice and sustainability within the industry and aims to protect the integrity of this diamond.

Since founding Lucara Diamond Corp. in 2007, Eira Thomas has made great strides in supply chain transparency and modernizing diamond mining, embracing technology and introducing a new business solution for the diamond industry. Clara, Lucara’s new cloud-based digital, blockchain sales platform aims to transform the rough diamond supply chain, providing a streamlined marketplace where diamonds are individually sold using blockchain to ensure future provenance.

Further under Thomas’ leadership, Lucara has also employed a 97 percent Botswana workforce and the first female Botswana woman to be the managing director of a diamond mine, Naseem Lahri. Lahri will be featured in “Fashionscapes: The Diamonds of Botswana” in her role at Lucara.

Livia Firth poses with Naseem Lahri, managing director of Lucara Diamond Corporation’s diamond mine, Karowe.  Livia Fith Instagram.

Here, Eira Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Lucara, talks to WWD about diamond mining in Botswana and the technology that is creating a more transparent future in the diamond industry.

WWD: You’ve developed a new technology, Clara, which is modernizing the diamond supply chain. What was that process and how does it work? 

Eira Thomas: This is all about using technology to create efficiencies in the current supply chain, which is antiquated and opaque. Clara turns the current push-style sale system that forces customers to buy diamonds in bulk, into a pull-style sales system where customers can purchase the diamonds they really want, stone by stone.

WWD: How is the technology furthering the goal for transparency? 

E.T.: We are using blockchain technology within Clara to track the individual diamonds from source to final polished form. This system provides a chain of custody and assurance on diamond provenance.

WWD: What is the future of the rough diamond marketplace? 

E.T.: The rough diamond marketplace is ready for transformation and disruption and Clara is the diamond sales platform that the industry is embracing. It is about collaboration, creating a more efficient, transparent marketplace and increased connectivity between the rough and polished diamond markets using technology.

Lucara Diamonds - Karowe Diamond Mine

Lucara Diamonds Corporation, Karowe Diamond Mine.  Image © Lucara Diamonds

WWD: When you founded Lucara Diamond Corporation you hired a largely Botswanian workforce, why was that important?

E.T.: There was never another option — Botswana is blessed with a highly educated population with all the right skills. Not only is it important to maximize the benefits of any operation for the communities where you work, it was the easy and smart business solution for Lucara.

WWD: You’ve hired a lot of women in senior management too. 

E.T.: It’s important to point out that our senior leadership team was targeted on the basis of talent and experience. The reason we were successful in recruiting that talent — which has happened to be mostly women — is because we foster a working environment that is respectful, dynamic and inclusive. We are delighted that a lot of smart women chose to come work with us at Lucara. 

WWD: How else is Lucara doing things differently?

E.T.: Lucara understands the importance and value of consultation, listening to our communities to understand their needs and aspirations. Only then can we find ways to collaborate and develop programs that will be positive and beneficial.

One of our most successful investments is our community farming project that provides eggs and produce to the local population to help build farming capacity and more importantly address malnutrition. They are able to sell excess produce to the supermarkets generating additional income for the community.

For More WWD Business News: 

DPA Addresses ‘Antiquated Perceptions’ About Diamond Mining

How ‘Conscious Consumerism’ Is Driving Demand for Blockchain

Mined vs. Lab-Grown: Diamond Debate Heats Up

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