Runtime: 87 minutes
Director: Jason Kohn
By: Peggy Marie
One of the most fascinating documentaries at SXSW was from director Jason Kohn, who takes on the diamond trade with “Nothing Lasts Forever” (2022). The documentary takes a good, hard look at the world of diamond cartels and most importantly, at the difference between synthetic and real diamonds. Clue: you won’t know the difference and De Beers Diamond Corp. is of course, involved up to their eyeballs as per usual.
On the one hand, its completely fascinating and shows how diamond companies didn’t just sell a product, they sold an idea of what a diamond is, and what the fairy tale story of getting a diamond is comprised of. On the other hand, it delves deep into the synthetic diamond world with less-than-savoury characters like Martin Rapaport of the Rapaport Diamond group. Rapaport might just be the true epitome of despicable elitist, as we watch him give a clown-car of a speech of why synthetic diamonds are “boogeyman under the bed” to an audience of equally elitist people. It’s plainly obvious that anything that comes out of Rapaport’s mouth is said only to protect his financial interests.
Then you have De Beers Diamond EVP for brands and consumer markets, Stephen Lussier, prominently featured in this film. Oh, De Beers. Being Dutch, you grow up with the idea that De Beers is so good, and so wonderful as many Dutch South Afrikaners were employed by the company that controlled almost the entire diamond trade from around 1889 thru the early 2000’s. Even in this documentary at one point, they paint De Beers as saints that saved Botswana by building schools, highways, giving them medical care etc., but clearing up the idea in it’s own way by cutting to a lion doing some pretty graphic things, essentially letting you know that all that glitters is not real. We now know De Beers essentially used the Botswanian people as slaves to harness and keep the fantasy of a diamond signifying “eternal love” alive, essentially by telling the ever duped public, the bigger the diamond, the more you’re loved. For anyone who has ever seen “Blood Diamond” (2006), just know that THAT is the more the true story of the diamond world.
Then we have Dusan Simic who simply tells it like it is. Simic is a smart gemologist, sort of a madman-type personality, who seems to fall victim to his own creation. He tries desperately to develop technology to differentiate lab-grown diamonds from genuine product. While he lays it all on the line, his technology idea fully collapses as we see him sadly end up as an Uber driver. While almost tragic to watch, he also ends the film with his new idea of creating the perfect un-detectable diamond in hand. Who knows if it’s real as we are just left wondering.
Lastly, and probably the most eye-opening and actually quite fun, is Aja Raden. She is woven throughout the film and totally blows the lid off here and is at the heart of Kohn’s diamond rip-off story. With a snarkiness not usually seen in a documentary of this nature, Raden throws caution to the win and takes down every marketing myth ever created about diamonds. She offers up commentary clearly not the slightest bit concerned with the repercussions on her career it all might have nor the diamond industry’s reputation as a whole. She is also the only female interviewed here as apparent early on that this is a male dominated industry, which should come as no surprise to anyone. At the end, she formulates probably the best summary of the entire industry: “they, (meaning De Beers) created an illusion so spectacular it turned into truth.” She notes as well, “You don’t want people who question things. Those aren’t good consumers.” Facts.
If you’re like me, you stopped believing in the diamond fantasy years ago and seeing something like this let’s you know this was the right thing. GIA certified means nothing, but one thing is certain from now on, you can’t tell the real thing from a fake any longer. And that difference no longer matters to those making billions of dollars by not just duping the every-(wo)man here, but suppressing of billions of diamonds, as well. They are just held in warehouses around the world in order to make you think you are buying into a dream, yet a fake one at that.
LOOK FOR “NOTHING LAST FOREVER” UPCOMING RELEASE ON SHOWTIME