In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds, the diamond mining company’s education and training entity, is providing free access to its Diamond Foundation Course.
The decision was taken to offer support and “play a small part” in helping those who are working from home or are in self-isolation to “stay connected to their industry” during global lockdowns, says De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds education and training director Jodine Perrin.
She explains that the free access to the course is also a chance for the group’s key trade partners to continue supporting their teams’ development without compromising on health and safety.
The Diamond Foundation Course – one of four courses currently on offer – was established in 2017 and designed to “give a full overview of the entire diamond pipeline”, with larger retailers using it to support their own in-house induction and developmental plans for staff, Perrin comments.
The other three courses focus on individual topics in more depth, making the online course “a great starting point” for students.
The online course was created using expertise from the De Beers Group, Perrin explains, adding that collaboration with key trade partners globally has been crucial in raising awareness of the course, and to ensure that “it complements internal corporate training and development plans”.
Additionally, in recognising the need to make education as accessible as possible to all who wish to study, Perrin notes that the group’s course has been translated into several languages.
The Web-based platform and mobile readiness mean that students can access the course and its associated material on their personal computers, tablets or even their mobile phones.
“Our main aim is to celebrate the rarity and uniqueness that diamonds offer and, through education, we hope to give key information that supports industry members in their daily work,” Perrin says.
As an example, De Beers hopes that sales staff are enabled to inspire customer purchases in-store through the unique stories that are shared in the course materials.
“We want to empower management and trade members with insights that we share and, overall, we want people to feel inspired and proud of the industry that they work in.”
The Diamond Foundation Course comprises eight modules and includes diamond growth, diamond properties, the journey to the surface and the process of diamond exploration.
Diamond mining and recovery, rough diamond sorting and sales, cutting and polishing of rough diamonds and even synthetic diamonds, simulants and treatments are discussed, among other relevant topics.
Perrin says the rationale behind this stems from consumers researching more about diamonds and its industry “than ever before”; therefore, companies (such as retailers) “need to be ready to offer much more to their consumers when giving great customer service”.
In turn, this led to the creation of a wider range of topics for the online course, so that there is more information available to students, thereby allowing for “a much more dynamic” level of customer service.
“Each module is interactive and contains a variety of smaller bitesize chapters, which students can study at times that suit them,” Perrin explains, adding that each module has “downloadable” study notes, as well as a short test to ensure that all the key learning points have been met.
Students have about four months’ access to the course, but can complete it sooner, depending on how much time they devote to it.
The course has about 36 hours’ worth of study in total.
The other three courses currently on offer involve a mix of workshops, theory and laboratory experiences, all led by De Beers Group tutors. While these are postponed owing to the various global lockdowns, the course dates will be made known once it is appropriate to do so, Perrin notes.
De Beers’ one-day course – Introduction to the 4Cs Workshop – is a hands-on workshop designed to provide an overview of how to grade polished diamonds, and focus on the cut, colour, clarity and carat of the diamond.
The advanced Polished Diamond Grading Course teaches students “the intricate details of how to grade and value polished diamonds”. This, Perrin explains, involves distance learning and is followed by a one-week intensive laboratory experience.
The intensive one-day Synthetic Diamond Detection Course explores the detail of how to detect synthetic diamonds and is designed to help companies maintain the integrity of their internal diamond pipelines.
To date, more than 180 companies and trade bodies have contacted De Beers to sign up their members, which Perrin says indicates that “thousands of people” are currently studying with the company, making it “a huge success”.