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Diamonds Are No One’s Best Friend

Diamonds Are No One’s Best Friend

If you’re planning to buy a diamond for someone special on Valentine’s Day, you may want to think twice.

Two-thirds of the world’s diamonds come from countries — Angola, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic– where wars and bloody conflicts have too recently occurred, or are occurring. Under the pressure of reports about blood diamonds (pdf) mined in war zones and sold to finance the activities of invading armies, dictators and warloads, the United Nations adopted the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in 2002. Under this protocol, countries where diamonds are produced are to follow regulations to ensure that diamonds are mined in humane conditions and that those charged with illegal trafficking face criminal charges.

Before the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was adopted, U.S. Executive Orders prohibited the importing of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone and Liberia in 2001; the latter was found to serve as a pipeline for conflict diamonds.

The reality of the inhumane conditions in which many diamonds are produced has been highlighted in the public consciousness in movies (Blood Diamond in 2006 as well as a 2002 James Bond movie, Die Another Day) and music.

Certainly, no one wants to purchase something loaded with so much significance — nothing less than a token of love — from which someone’s blood and sweat has been scrubbed off. Wedding website The Knot offer tips to “shop smart.” Northern Canada has been become one source for such: Diamonds were found there in the 1990s and are said to be mined in environmentally conscious and conflict-free conditions.

But just because diamonds have been approved under the Kimberley Process or are labeled “conflict-free” does not mean they are. As Treehugger points out, the Kimberley Process has turned out to be hardly conflict-free itself, having been criticized for lacking transparency and allowing diamonds “sourced very directly from problem areas into the trade, particularly Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, which are notorious for human rights abuses.” In 2011, Global Witness,the very organization that helped to create the Kimberley Process, withdrew from it most of all because it “can’t guarantee that its conflict-free diamonds are actually free of conflict.”

Diamonds, and giving someone one, are full of deep cultural significance. But more often than not, sparkling gemstones have been extricated from the earth by individuals forced to do so and under terrible conditions. For most of history, the typical miners have not been not the heigh-ho-ing seven dwarves of Disney’s Snow White, but, more likely, slaves or laborers vastly underpaid for the physical toil they were subjected to.

You can do your research about a retailer’s sourcing process; a number of sites (GreenKarat, Ingle & Rhode) offer jewelry that is said to conform to ethical social and environmental standards. As Ira Weissman writes in the Huffington Post, diamonds are really just a “retail product like any other” (that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself eschewed) The only way to know you’re not giving or wearing a conflict-free diamond is to forego buying diamonds, period.

In place of diamonds, check out Care2 blogger Beth Buczynski’s suggestions for a zero waste Valentine’s Day!

 

Related Care2 Coverage

When A Diamond Ring Was “Insurance”

Diamond Mining Leaves People And Land Devastated

Target Pledges Not to Sell Dirty Gold

 

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107 comments

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2:20PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

I'm sorry but I don't agree. I've been working in the diamond sector for 30 years now, and yes there are blood diamonds, yes there is the fact that the people owning the mines are making millions on the back of their workers. It's not fair, that I agree on 100% but isn't that so for almost any material that's unearthed? I'm thinking of copper, silver, gold,half precious stones etc...Or let's take fruits and coffee, what do the workers get and what do the owners get?
With the Kimberley certificate things have changed a lot, but corrupt governements will allways remain, not buying any diamonds will not make these governements change, it will only get lots of people out of a job since a diamond doesn't come straight from the mine into a jewel, it passes a whole lot of workers. Buyers, cutters, polishers, geologists,brokers,diamond dealers, shops, and so on. We have our local governement that's already doing a fine job in closing offices in Belgium we don't need a worldwide ban so 1000's of more people in Antwerp alone lose their job. Besides,on the same level of abusing people as slaves one shouldn't buy chocolates , coffee, bananas, electrical products made in china or taiwan, clothes made in India etc.. I'm sure you catch my drift.

6:01AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

the article doesn't say that "all is bad news" with diamonds, but it does point out that there is no sure way to tell if the source of diamonds is conflict-free.

I agree with you, Kristina: no diamonds for me, please.

3:51AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thanks

2:48AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Some of it is true, but you forget that the diamond industry went a long way and due to the Kimberly process.
Actually many cutting facilities are located today in Africa and many mines doing a great job in the way they treat workers - So not all is bad news.
The idea is buying the diamond from a "Good" source and then you are actually doing a good service to African countries.

Dan Greenberg
Diamonds Geek

3:19PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

thanks

1:25PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

CARE 2 forgot to mention Sierra Leone that suffered a crippling civil war because of Charles Taylor of Liberia targeting Sierra Leone's diamond mines. Even today after developing a program for diamond's in Sierra Leone, families are making big money off of diamonds and their employees are not. Sierra Leone cant fool me. Diamonds are still bad news in Sierra Leone, also. Not only that the leaders in Sierra Leone are continuing to pillage their country .....

I would not wear a diamond if you gave it to me. Secondly, gold is killing Sierra Leone and other countries mentioned above also.

Believe me. someone in Sierra Leone told me in 1990 that Sierrra Leone could be a first world country within five years as far as infrastructure and employment but the leaders continue to keep their citizens poor and disadvantaged....I win.

3:16AM PST on Feb 10, 2013

The real love and care counts

10:06PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

I don't normally wear diamonds. I have a pair of diamond stud earrings that I will wear very occassionally and those I will keep because they were made from the diamonds in my mother's engagement ring.

I would far rather wear other stones like amythest or tourquoise.

5:36PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Something to think about... I could do without one for sure

4:44PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

thank you

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