Unfortunately, conflict (blood) diamonds are still an extremely detrimental issue affecting thousands of individuals and consumers around the world. We wanted to talk about what conflict diamonds are and where they come from, what the Kimberley Process is and the faults in its system, and how we as conscious consumers can work together to make a change in the diamond mining industry.
What is a conflict diamond? Where do a majority of conflict diamonds come from?
The United Nations (UN) defines blood/conflict diamonds as, “any diamond that is mined in areas controlled by forces opposed to the legitimate, internationally recognized government of a country and that is sold to fund military action against that government.” The World Diamond Council states that illicit rough diamonds have been used by rebels to fund wars and conflict across many African countries, with the rebels often exploiting diamonds and other natural resources to fulfill their illicit goals. The rough diamonds are sold at high cost or traded for arms to support the rebels and war. Countries such as Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic Congo are the areas most negatively affected by the conflict trade, with millions of people from those countries being killed through war, funded by conflict diamonds. MiaDonna defines conflict diamonds a little bit differently though. We define a conflict diamond as ‘any diamond that is unsustainable, thereby contributing to a negative impact on the environment, society and/or economy.’ It’s important to also recognize the negative humanitarian effects caused by mining diamonds and dealing with conflict diamonds.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Time Magazine
What is the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process was created when South African diamond-producing countries met in Kimberley, South Africa to discuss different ways to stop the illegal trade of conflict diamonds and ensure that diamond purchases were not funding wars, violence or affecting human rights. From this, they established the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), in which members are required to certify that all rough diamonds being exported are only produced through legitimate mining and that all sales activities of these diamonds are also "conflict free." According to The Greener Diamond, although the Kimberley Process is in place, there are still major flaws in the system that allow blood/conflict diamonds to be traded and sold, even today. Because of the ease of exchanging and smuggling diamonds across country borders, the violent nature of diamond mining itself, and the Kimberley Process’ narrow definition of conflict, blood diamonds are still a major issue around the world.
How can I make sure I don’t get a conflict diamond? What options do I have besides conflict diamonds?
To make sure you don’t fall into getting a conflict diamond, it’s important to do your research and be an active and conscious consumer when it comes to the companies or brands you’re purchasing from. Even with the Kimberley Process in place, there is no regulation of money from the sale of these so-called conflict free diamonds directed back to the local community it was originally mined from.
There are plenty of available options for purchasing diamonds that are 100% conflict free. How about a lab grown diamond? With the exact same specs and grading scale as earth mined diamonds, but at a lower cost and with little to no environmental or humanitarian impact, these are absolutely a positive and conflict free option.
Any refutable conflict free diamond jeweler, such as MiaDonna, will provide you with a certificate of the lab your lab-grown diamond was made in; a proof of origin, which you don’t often receive when purchasing an earth-mined diamond. Besides lab-grown diamonds, there are simulant diamonds, Diamond Hybrid® simulants, moissanite and cubic zirconia, and a variety of other options. It just comes down to your budget, lifestyle, and personal preference.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of CNN News
Where can I learn more about conflict diamonds? What can I do to help limit or change the conflict trade?
You can learn more about conflict diamonds here or on our charity foundation’s website, The Greener Diamond. This issue of blood/conflict diamonds is still very much something we need to be talking about and working to change, and playing your part as a conscious consumer will help us get a little bit closer. By making smart, active choices about where you’re buying your goods from, you help to steer the ship towards sustainable and ethical alternatives to the harmful and detrimental things we know from the past. Together, we can make a positive, impactful change in our economy towards conflict diamond alternatives and ultimately, we can help save those communities and individuals involved in the conflict diamond trade.