Russell Simmons found himself in a tough place this past December with the release of the movie Blood Diamond and an increasingly demanding public scrutinizing the practices of the diamond industry. On one hand he has a business to support. On the other, he has an obligation as a person of celebrity and power to do his part in making sure the best practices are followed. As Kofi G said in an interview recently, “Maybe at the beginning he thought he could do something to help the situation, but I think itâ€™s clear now that he might have been set-up for failure.”
Still, Russell has kept moving forward with promises to help those involved at the lower end of the trade as much as possible. His latest venture is a project called the “Green Initiative” in which twenty-five percent of proceeds from sales (from Simmons Jewelry Co. ) will go toward the Diamond Empowerment Fund, which will support institutions, like schools and colleges, in South Africa and Botswana and help boost economic development.
Simmons launched that initiative last weekend with the help of Sanaa Lathan, Eva Pigford, Serena Williams, and the always photo-hungry Paris Hilton. Details are scarce on the official site, but there even appears to be a special line of jewelry with the ‘Green Initiative’ logo available for the campaign. It appears that you can start to make your orders tomorrow, March 1st.
Overall, I think Simmons is making some positive steps in balancing both the industry that supports his business and the expectations of charity and social responsibility that now come with the trade. As Leonardo DiCaprio mentioned on the red carpet at last week’s Oscars, it’s great to see studios taking chances on movies (such as Blood Diamond) that can make a difference and bring awareness to these issues. Simmons has a history of supporting charity groups, so I have no doubts that such initiatives would have happened regardless of the film. Still, a litte prodding always helps.
[UPDATE] Turns out there is some special significance to the green bracelet. 50% of all net profits from the Green Bracelet are going to the Diamond Empowerment Fund. 25% from the rest of the Collection. So, if you can, hit up the green bracelet and help make a difference!