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.