Actress And Natural Diamond Council’s Global Ambassador Lily James Illuminates Pathways To Sustainability

Lily James, renowned for her magnetic presence on stage and screen, shared with us her experience of voyaging into the heart of Canada’s diamond mining landscape. As a leading voice in the entertainment realm and ethical advocacy, James effortlessly bridges the worlds of glamour and responsibility. Her journey, intertwined with the mission of the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), serves as a testament to her commitment to transparency, sustainability, and community empowerment within the diamond industry. In conversation with ELLE, James shares her anticipation and excitement for an ethically radiant future for natural diamonds.

ELLE: What insights did you gain from your visit to the Rio Tinto splitting facility in Canada?

Rio Tinto Splitting Facility

Lily James (LJ): I met some amazing women at the Rio Tinto splitting facility, including Gaeleen MacPherson and Melanie Sangris both of whom have worked in the diamond industry for several years. As Head of People & Community at Rio Tinto, MacPherson shared how diamond mining can provide opportunities for the local communities as well as keep families together.

ELLE: Can you elaborate on Polar Bear Diamonds’ significance and how it aligns with NDC’s mission to promote transparency and local sustainability?

LJ: At Diamonds de Canada, I had the chance to observe the dedication to local sustainability first-hand. Every aspect, from mining to cutting and polishing, remains within the community, maximising local benefits. Their exclusive Polar Bear Diamonds, found only in the Northwest Territories of Canada, are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, ensuring transparency and provenance.

ELLE: How did your visit to NWT shape your understanding of indigenous cultural significance, and how might the diamond industry support indigenous heritage?

Darcy Sinclair, The Mobile Maintenance Superintendent

LJ: The very first thing we did upon arriving in the NWT was visiting with the community, witnessing how important and special the local community of First Nations are. During my visit, a specific encounter resonated deeply with me. I met Darcy Sinclair, the mobile maintenance superintendent. He shared the importance of giving jobs to people in the community so they don’t have to move away for work. He also highlighted the necessity of skill training, emphasising that the mine equips individuals with specialised expertise. This ensures that if they decide to pursue other opportunities, they are highly qualified for alternative roles.

ELLE: What were some of the key takeaways from your discussions with employees, particularly the environmental management team, at the Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine regarding sustainable practices and land protection?

LJ: During my visit to the Gahcho Kué diamond mine, I realised that the industry’s emphasis on trust holds true: regardless of your diamond’s origin, prioritising the well-being of the land, wildlife, and indigenous communities remains paramount. We had the privilege of meeting Environmentalist Mason Elwood, who diligently monitors water temperatures outdoors. His commitment is unwavering, conducting checks multiple times a day, year-round, and even amidst freezing temperatures.

ELLE: As NDC’s Global Ambassador, how do you plan to promote the message of “Real, Rare, Responsible” to a global audience, especially in the context of increasing demand for ethically sourced products?

Lily James
Diamonds de Canada

LJ: I plan to do this by sharing the stories of real people that I’ve met through these experiences with NDC. As I mentioned earlier, one of the women I met at the Rio Tinto splitting facility was Melanie Sangris who has worked in the natural diamond industry for many years. She has gone through the mining training program, she’s a mom and speaking to her was quite inspiring. She is the Diavik Diamond Mines’ first female Tele-remote Scoop Operator. From meeting women at the helm of mining operations to educators shaping the future generation, everywhere I look I’m reminded that natural diamonds are truly special.

ELLE: Looking ahead, what do you envision as the most significant challenges and opportunities for the natural diamond industry, and how do you plan to contribute to addressing these as NDC’s Global Ambassador?

LJ: As I look to the future of the natural diamond industry, we are met with challenges and opportunities. One of the most significant challenges is continuing to prioritise sustainable and ethical practices. In these challenges, there is opportunity for innovation and growth which I got to witness firsthand while visiting the NWT in Canada. As a Global Ambassador, I plan to continue dedicating my time to visiting these regions and learning about the natural diamond industry through first-hand experience.

Read the full story on ELLE India’s new issue, or download your digital copy via Magzter.

- Fashion Writer

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