The Kimberley Process: Scheme or Scam?

Article by

It’s now been 13 years since the global effort to ban conflict diamonds began and where are we now? The unfortunate truth is we're exactly where we were 13 years ago. The Kimberley Process has clearly failed us. International policies cannot guarantee a conflict-free diamond trade, and rebels, governments and terrorist groups continue to fund acts of terror with diamonds.

It’s unfortunate that retailers selling earth-mined diamonds still use the Kimberley Process to comfort consumers who have concerns about conflict diamonds, and it’s even more unfortunate that consumers are still falling for it. It has been proven time and time again that the Kimberley Process has been unsuccessful.

The main problem is that the definition of a conflict-diamond is too narrow. The conflict diamond definition, as per the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), is a “Rough diamond mined in an area controlled by insurgent forces whose sale is used to finance anti-government military action." This means that the diamonds mined in Zimbabwe, for example, a country notorious for killing, raping and maiming hundreds of artisanal miners, are considered conflict-free under the KPCS. This is because, despite being mined under horrific conditions, they did not fund armed forces. These “dirty diamonds” are being certified by the Kimberley Process, making them “clean” and then sold to unassuming diamond consumers who think they are purchasing conflict-free stones.

In 2008, I remember being quoted in an interview saying, "...although I think it [the Kimberley Process] is a great idea in theory, it is not well regulated, so right now I believe they cannot guarantee a diamond to be conflict-free." It seemed to me to be more of a PR stunt, they kind of put a band aid on a problem that was starting. Sadly, nearly 10 years later, I am still saying the same thing, but the good news is, more people are listening.

Albert Einstein is famous for saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, in my opinion, the KPCS is insanity. Reminds me of my marriage, it went on for 14 years when I could really see it wasn’t working about 5 years in but you keep doing the same thing expecting a different result. 

Diamond consumers please listen up...

The ugly truth is blood diamonds are still a problem in today's society. It’s time to shut down the conversation about the Kimberley Process - stop investing time, effort and wasting money, it’s just not working. I am frustrated that we have to keep talking about that fact, let’s re-invent this process, so it works for everyone - the miners, the environment and most importantly you. Consumers deserve to know the truth!

If you are in the market for an engagement ring this season, please do your research and do not buy into the Kimberley Process “speech” rattled off by earth-mined diamond jewelers who only care about the bottom line. In this day and age, the only true way to guarantee your symbol of love did not come from an act of terror is to purchase a lab-grown diamond or a recycled diamond.

Author’s note - Industry Update:

Recent announcements from multiple news outlets are reporting about a major NGO, the Civil Society Coalition, who is one of the “three founding pillars” of the Kimberley Process, is choosing to boycott the KPCS by sitting out on next year’s meeting. Please read to learn more.

Another MUST READ article on the Kimberley Process written by Amnesty International: Time for diamond companies to stop hiding behind Kimberley Process - Please read to learn more...

Learn more about the Kimberley Process at The Greener Diamond.