Many people are absolutely devastated when they learn about conflict diamonds. They think about their engagement ring, their glittery jewelry, and all of the diamonds that they have admired over the years. The brilliance of these pieces is diminished greatly by their bloody history. Diamonds that come from countries in a state of insurrection or rebellion are often obtained by violent and inhumane means.
There are many places around the world that mine clean diamonds through peaceful means. A large part of the money helps support the economy and some reconstruction i.e. South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. However, in some parts of the world, tyrant groups take over mines and the villages nearby, forcing villagers into slavery and intimidating their families with murder, rape, and amputation. They sell these diamonds and use the money to buy weapons and fund illicit activities. It is possible to get a jewelry piece made from a non conflict diamond from most major and reputable diamond retailers, if you know what to ask for.
However, there is no way to know for sure if a diamond is non conflict. Once the rough diamond has been cut and polished, it is impossible to tell where it was mined. Thus, for a diamond to be “non conflict” certified, its mining, cutting, polishing, and shipping must be extensively recorded, regulated, and double checked. The jeweler that you go to should have a license and official paperwork in order to prove that the diamond did not come from a conflict area. This is especially important when you buy diamonds from an online retailer offering a price that is almost too good to be true!
There are two questions you should ask the whenever you buy diamond jewelry. The salesperson should be able to answer these questions, as blood diamonds are a huge issue in the diamond industry, so everyone involved is fairly familiar with them in the same way that they are familiar with diamond quality issues, such as diamond appraisals. If the salesperson cannot or does not answer any of these questions, then you should politely take your business elsewhere.
The first question is, “How can I know for sure that these are non conflict diamonds?” A guarantee from the store is not enough, if a diamond is non conflict then it will have gone through the Kimberly Process, and the salesperson should have something on file from their supplier stating such. Several Canadian diamond retailers or retailers that sell Canadian diamonds will have certificates of origin.
The second question is, “Do you know where the diamonds you sell come from?” Many countries in Africa, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo are known conflict areas, so diamonds from them are most likely to be blood diamonds. If you are extremely knowledgeable about blood diamonds, then you know that some areas of Africa actually have clean diamonds that are good for the local economy. However, if you aren’t heavily researched, it might be best to stay clear away from the region.
It also helps if you understand that diamond certifications are not a guarantee that diamond is conflict free; for instance, GIA certified are not necessarily non conflict diamonds. If you are dedicated to this cause, then you might want to only support jewelers who refuse any association with blood diamonds.
If you are interested in conflict diamonds, you obviously care about humanity and the environment and you may enjoy this article about what is a wannabe naturalist.
June 15, 2010 @ 11:28 am
We rely on our diamond manufacturers to supply us with conflict-free diamonds. I think you’re making an assumption here that every diamond has it’s own certification that travels with it from mine to cutter to jewelry store. If that’s the case then it’s news to me and you can enlighten me. I’m not saying it’s not done…I just have never heard of it.
I’m a big Hearts On Fire advocate and one of the reasons is because the owner/founder was on the forefront of non-conflict disclosure. We have their promise in writing that HOF diamonds are conflict-free. Also the % of diamonds coming from the aforementioned regions are very small…very small. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter…but as long as there are legitimate industries in this world there will be illegitimate people out to exploit the best intentions of the nice guys. That goes for gas, clothing, pharmaceuticals, food, you name it. (Even bloggers and consultants.)
This is a hot-button issue that doesn’t lend itself to quick answers. I certainly don’t have them but there are countless people in the business who are working on it.
I’ve gotten off track. (I like to talk.) Maybe just send me a little info on jewelers that you know have the sort of paper work you mention above. (And the manufacturers you know that supply it.)
Thanks a bunch. I really like your site BTW!
June 15, 2010 @ 10:15 pm
Hi Andy, I’ll be happy to reply. Any reputable jeweler, online or brick-and-mortar store, should adhere to the Kimberley Process. That means that they only buy diamonds from manufacturers that adhere to the Voluntary System of Warranties as established by the Kimberley Process (www.kimberleyprocess.com). In short that means that the traders in rough and polished diamonds and diamond jewelry agree only to buy diamonds that originate from countries that implement the Kimberley Process. As far as the jeweler goes, they (should) have signed affidavits on file from all their suppliers attesting to the fact that they comply with the Kimberley Process. The following should also appear on all invoices for polished diamonds and diamond jewelry that leaves the stores: “The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.”
I know for a fact that this is the case with my client Charles Koll Jewellers, also a distributor of Hearts On Fire diamonds. I couldn’t agree with you more that HOF is a first rate company!
June 16, 2010 @ 1:50 pm
Thanks for the response. It’s one thing to have signed affidavits on file from suppliers…quite another to have a special something on hand for each diamond.
“…if a diamond is non conflict then it will have gone through the Kimberly Process, and the salesperson should have some nice papers for you, with special stamps and textures to prevent forgeries as best as possible.”
I’m not trying to dispute the relevance of what you’re saying with regards to trading in non-conflict diamonds. I just don’t want people to think that consumers can ask for “nice papers…with special stamps and textures” that come from the pipe line verifying the diamonds are conflict-free. As in…if the jeweler doesn’t have them then he’s got something to hide. As I said…I don’t know a single jeweler that can produce such documents because they aren’t attached to single diamonds.
We have those same guarantees (as Charles Kroll) from our suppliers but we certainly don’t have them for individual diamonds. (And I’ll bet they don’t either.)
I really just want it to be clear that it’s relatively easy to be sure we’re trading in conflict-free goods by the cutters/manufacturers we deal with…but it’s on a bigger level than diamond-by-diamond. Seriously not trying to make life difficult for you…but hoping to make it less complicated for my sales staff and jewelry professionals at large. Thanks!
June 16, 2010 @ 2:01 pm
Point well taken, I made the corrections. Thank you for your input, Andy.
June 17, 2010 @ 5:43 am
I hope I wasn’t a thorn in your side. Thanks for the attention, responses, and dialog. Have a great day…
June 18, 2010 @ 2:44 am
Nice write-up. But at the end of the day it’s all a matter of trusting your suppliers – conflict diamonds aren’t the only problem and there are many things that can go wrong when buying a diamond from an unknown company.
Diamond companies who supply their rough stones from BHP Bilinton, for instance, are guaranteed to have conflict-free diamonds (BHP’s mines are in Canada).
In short, it’s a matter of doing a little research and trusting your supplier
June 18, 2010 @ 6:25 am
You are right…trust is paramount. Thank you for the comment.
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June 21, 2010 @ 11:05 am
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June 24, 2010 @ 4:08 am
Great article if a little out of sync with the facts on the origin of blood diamonds. We are facilitators of diamond buying and source some of our rough diamonds from Sierra Leone that do indeed have Kimberley Certificates and are clean and conflict free, as all of the diamonds we source from Africa are.
We also source diamonds from West of Africa in countries such as Ghana, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Its the “Wild Wild West” out there people so its not an easy task to source diamonds no matter where they come from. We do our very best to ensure conflict diamonds do not leave Africa through our company, once our diamonds are cut and polished our diamonds are available to Jewelers and wholesalers.
Get in touch if you are interested in securing non-conflict diamonds through us.
Task International Zambia
June 24, 2010 @ 9:10 am
Thank you for the feedback Helen. I worked for a diamond mining company that owned mines in South Africa and we did exploration in other African countries. You are right, it is the ‘Wild West’, but are legitimate players as well.
June 25, 2010 @ 4:32 am
Only 5% of the worldwide traded diamonds are blood diamonds. There is definitely no guarantee that the diamonds are conflict free. The Kimberley process which was put in place by United Nations is ensuring that those countries who are having a political instable situation cannot export diamonds. Nevertheless some stones will find their way to the sorting table of De Beers and others.
We are running a diamond mine in Liberia which is one of those countries and strictly following the Kimberley Process. All the stones are guided with the respective certificate and still we cannot guarantee that it is the correct certificate, simply because I don’t travel with the diamonds and certificates by myself. You never know what happens during the transport.
The GIA (ICI, HRD, CIBJO..) certificate is only referring to the quality of the stones. It explains the 4C’s and will not mention the country of origin. Therefore this is no guarantee of conflict free diamond.
The end customer’s awareness for blood diamonds was mainly raised by the correspondent movie, which by the way is a very good one!
June 25, 2010 @ 6:26 am
Thanks, Wolfgang….I speak with an “Afrikaans” South African accent, and I must say, Leonardo DiCaprio nailed my accent in Blood Diamond. Great movie!
July 13, 2010 @ 9:38 pm
nice post. thanks.
CNA work in the health-care field
July 15, 2010 @ 9:35 am
Great, I never knew this, thanks.
July 15, 2010 @ 5:42 pm
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July 15, 2010 @ 6:04 pm
Thank you…much appreciated. Stay tuned!