What are conflict diamonds?
It is astonishing how many people are aware of conflict diamonds, and even more astonishing is how many have never heard of it. In short, conflict diamonds are diamonds that are mined through slave labour and/or are used for funding conflicts and wars, usually in Africa. The civil wars in Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Zimbabwe, DRC and Congo Republic have been funded through the sale of conflict diamonds.
What is the Kimberley Process?
In an attempt to curb the violence funded through diamonds, the United Nations Security Council met in Kimberley, South Africa. Involving governments of the various countries involved as well as the World Diamond Council, the UN drafted the Kimberley Process in 2000. According to this process, each diamond is to be certified at each stage of the supply chain originating at the mining. This assists customers to identify and reject conflict diamonds. It has helped stem the flow of blood diamonds to a large extent. However, corruption, lack of involvement and dedication by governments, as well as smuggling has made the Kimberley Process porous.
Shortcomings of the KPCS
The first problem with the Kimberley Process is that it does not provide for dealing with the issues of exploitation, child labour, forced eviction and environmental problems that are rampant in the diamond industry.
The Kimberley Process also is unable to account for smuggling activities, where conflict diamonds are being mined and then smuggled into legitimate markets. Governments such as Venezuela and Zimbabwe have been extremely lax in applying any rules to their diamond industry, allowing this to happen.
A third problem is that the KPCS completely ignores the cutting and polishing stage, where diamonds can bypass all the checks set up by the Process. Due to all these reasons, conflict diamonds often enter the legitimate market.
Questions to ask
When you are purchasing diamonds, you could ask the seller certain questions to help you ascertain that you are getting untainted diamonds. Ask to see a copy of the company policy and find out where they stand on the sourcing of diamonds and what steps they have taken to avoid conflict diamonds. Demand a written guarantee from the original suppliers claiming that the said diamond is conflict-free. Purchase from a supplier who is actually able to answer all your questions satisfactorily.
One option is to ask for an ‘old’ diamond. The theory is that anything mined more than fifty years ago could not have led to the wars today. But this is problematic in its own because these diamonds have left a legacy of slavery and poverty in much of the world. However, your purchase of them would not facilitate any further loss of life. Ultimately, it depends on your perspective.
The best way to avoid conflict diamonds is to buy gems from continents that are not facing war, namely Africa. Countries with stringent laws, where the diamond industry is highly regulated include Australia, Canada, India, and Russia. If you want to support the legitimate diamond industry in Africa and its workers, you can try and find diamonds that are mined in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. At all costs, avoid diamonds that could not be traced to its source or those coming from Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic and Angola.
All our diamonds are certified conflict free.
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