I do not want to ignite debates regarding conspiracy theories here. I guess it is obvious that whenever big chunks of money change hands, some dirty and unethical side to any form of business might also be present.
It is not different in the case of diamonds either. Blood diamonds or conflict diamonds refer to one such aspect that gives the industry a bad name.
Let us take a closer look at what these sad ringing words mean and what you can do to prevent further proliferation of this unwanted phenomenon.
In certain war-torn territories of Africa, conflict diamonds are mined and sold in order to finance the civil wars. For example, equipment for soldiers and the warlord’s activity are directly supported through income made with illicit diamonds. More importantly, it is through inhumane methods and forced labor whereby civilians were brutally used to achieve the goals of these bloodthirsty warlords.
In the 1990s, many unsuspecting consumers didn’t realize that they were indirectly supporting the wars through their purchases. At that time, the smuggled roughs were procured at relatively cheap prices by getting around the usual trading chains, especially via the big cartels like De Beers.
As of 2001, the trading of rough stones originating from Sierra Leone or Liberia became illegal in the United States until the Kimberly Process was officially launched. It was estimated that 99.8% of the diamonds are now mined from conflict free sources since its implementation.
By avoiding conflict diamonds, you can do your part by making sure that the money earned from such revenues goes towards the development of African countries. Properly sourced roughs create jobs for millions of people in Africa and are a vital source of income for government services like education and health programs.
No matter which part of the world you are in, you can put your mind at ease when shopping for an engagement ring by asking the following questions to your jeweler.
1) How do you ensure that your inventory doesn’t consist of conflict diamonds?
2) Do you know the origins of your jewelry?
3) Do you have any company policies on conflict diamonds? Can I take a look at it?
4) Can you provide me with a written statement from your suppliers that guarantees these are not blood diamonds?
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and you can look up additional details at Amnesty USA. You should probably keep asking questions until you are 100% comfortable and sure of the merchant’s practices.
If you have time to spare, you might be interested to watch a great documentary on the impact of these controversial stones on African nations. The entire video is about 40 minutes long.
If you are interested in making a donation to help the victims of blood diamonds in Africa, visit Hands For Africa. You can also sign a petition against unethical mining operations there.