Demand for conflict free diamonds has increased in recent years. But what makes a diamond conflict free? How do you ensure you’re buying ethically-sourced diamonds?
Put simply, a “conflict diamond” is a diamond mined in a conflict zone, the trade of which directly supports a war effort or insurgency, along with the accompanying human rights abuses.
Conflict diamonds first came to the world’s attention in 1998, when Global Witness released their report titled “A Rough Trade”. The report highlighted the role the diamond trade had in financing the ongoing conflict in Angola, and in 2000, the UN released the Fowler Report, adding further weight to the argument.
The reports addressed the issue of various companies, along with certain African and European governments, violating the Lusaka Protocol, which sought to end the Angolan civil war by way of a ceasefire. By continuing to either trade in conflict diamonds, or failing to embargo or restrict the trade, these parties had been complicit in financing the warring parties.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
Several diamond-producing African nations led the development of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2003. Under this scheme, member countries only accept diamonds in a tamper-resistant container accompanied by a forgery-resistant certificate, and only buy diamonds from other member countries.
The intention of this scheme was to stop the flow of conflict diamonds into the world rough diamond market.
Regardless of the Kimberley Process, questions have persisted regarding the number of conflict diamonds still entering the world market, and the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process itself has been called into question.
The fact of the matter is that, regardless of the Kimberley Process, conflict diamonds are still making their way into the market, and it can be very difficult to know with certainty that you are not buying diamonds mined as a result of human suffering.
Adding to this are the other concerns surrounding diamond procurement, such as:
- Were the diamonds mined in an environmentally-friendly manner?
- Was child labour involved in the mining process?
- Were the miners fairly compensated for their work?
- Did the proceeds of the work benefit the miner’s community?
Beyond being conflict free, you need to trace a diamond’s origin, procurement, and supply chain journey to ensure your purchase is not harming people, their communities or the environment.
The Man-Made Alternative
It’s no surprise, then, that man-made diamonds have been growing in popularity among socially-conscious consumers.
Man-made diamonds are, as the name suggests, not mined in nature but created in a lab. They are either produced in a press that recreates the intense heat and pressure diamonds naturally form in, or “grown” by depositing carbon atoms from a carbon-rich plasma onto a substrate.
For the diamond-buying public, the obvious benefit of man-made diamonds is the certainty that they are conflict free, ethically and sustainably sourced, and that the purchase price will not benefit a warlord or despot. Additionally, man-made diamonds are of equal quality to nature-mined diamonds and are assessed to the same standards of cut, colour, clarity and carat.
How to buy conflict free diamonds
Learn where good diamonds come from
Visit www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/conflict-diamonds for information on which source countries to avoid. You can also buy diamonds mined in Canada or other peaceful nations free from systematic human rights abuses.
Follow it back to the source
Don’t be afraid to ask for details from your jeweller – where did this diamond come from, and how did it get to you. If your supplier cannot answer, or offers hand-waving explanations instead of specifics, go elsewhere.
Recycle if you can
Old jewellery is a perfectly good source of not only diamonds but gold, silver and platinum, that a good jeweller can turn into a modern masterpiece. While you can’t know the circumstances around the original purchase, you know that your money isn’t going to do harm this time around.
With man-made diamonds, there is no question regarding the source or supply chain, and the quality is just as good. You control the supplier, the production and the process, and can wear your diamond jewellery with a clear conscience.
For more information on man-made conflict free diamonds, please contact us.