“‘Diamonds are forever’ it is often said. But lives are not. We must spare people the ordeal of war, mutilations and death for the sake of conflict diamonds.” – Martin Chungong Ayafor, Chairman of the Sierra Leone Panel of Experts.
The war over diamonds, and diamonds fueling wars, is an on-going battle that unfortunately is thriving into today. I’ve touched on the bad effects of mining into our earth in a previous article, but here, I would like to focus on the awful effects that searching for this coveted gem has caused. Diamond mining takes place all over the world, in Canada, even, but the darkest, bloodiest and most torrential of locations in the hot bed of this misery is Africa. A hot bed of misery for a diamond, a single stone. Once you put the glasses of reality on, no diamond’s sparkle is ever that beautiful or worth it. Our greed as a species has turned one of Earth’s treasures and gifts into a dark, dark hypocrisy.
Almost everyone has heard of the term, “blood diamond”, or “conflict diamond”, but what does it mean? Plainly speaking, it means exactly what it sounds like. By purchasing these diamonds, you are funding wars, the ability of tyrants to make others their slaves, the continuing dangerous excavation of vital land and resources, and above all, the needless and much too early deaths of people and innocent animals. The trade of diamonds among African countries, namely Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, the Congo, and Zimbabwe, began as a means to an end. The value of the diamond is now so high to us, that war lords and criminals are able to use their diamonds as far but simple currency to gain weapons upon weapons for use in their brutal wars against each other, and in some cases, themselves in bloody civil wars. Even children have been sacrificed in these wars, often losing their hands to rebels and being trained and employed as soldiers.
There have been more than a few sanctions passed in attempt to stifle all of this illegal trading and the sale of such gems into the rest of the world, especially the West. However, like all laws passed, they are only as good as the people holding them up. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is one.
“The Kimberley Process attempted to curtail the flow of conflict diamonds, help stabilize fragile countries and support their development. As the Kimberley Process has made life harder for criminals, it has brought large volumes of diamonds onto the legal market that would not otherwise have made it there. This has increased the revenues of poor governments, and helped them to address their countries’ development challenges. For instance, some $125 million worth of diamonds were legally exported from Sierra Leone in 2006, compared to almost none at the end of the 1990s.
The Kimberley Process has ultimately failed to stem the flow of blood diamonds, leading key proponents such as Global Witness to abandon the scheme.
In addition to The Kimberley Process failing to curtail the flow of conflict diamonds throughout the world, there is no guarantee that diamonds with a Kimberley Process Certification are in fact conflict free. This is due to the nature of the corrupt government officials in the leading diamond producing countries. It is common for these officials to be bribed with $50 to $100 a day in exchange for paperwork declaring that blood diamonds are Kimberley Process Certified.
The Kimberley system attempted to increase governments’ transparency by forcing them to keep records of the diamonds they are exporting and importing and how much they are worth. In theory, this would show governments their finances so that they can be held accountable for how much they are spending for the benefit of the country’s population. However non-compliance by countries such as Venezuela has led to the failure of accountability.” -courtesy of Wikipedia.com
In parts of Africa like the Congo and Sierra Leone, where surface mining has been rendered nearly useless now that almost all of the diamonds have been claimed, the people who were at once forced at gun point to mine, are now doing it willingly because it is literally the only way they can fathom to generate income. Larger companies are taking over in areas like this because now the only way to find the diamonds is by mass mining expenditures into the land. There are camps all along rivers and roads of communities sifting through dirt after day, only to come up with nothing. One of the craziest parts about it is that your diamond may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but this money certainly does not trickle its way down to these people literally breaking their backs. They are often paid atrocious and offensive sums to the likes of less than $1.00 per day! On top of the crimes against humanity that all of this has caused, animals are being threatened as too many are being killed around the mines and camps to feed the ravished people working there.
This all may seem very daunting and hopeless, but it’s not. There are very simple and direct things that you, as the consumer, can do. Especially here in the United States, as we are the largest consumer of diamonds in the world, your seemingly simple and pure jewelry purchasing decisions, can truly make a difference. It is up to you whether or not that difference is a step towards the greater good, or once again, your greed.
*courtesy of brilliantearth.com
There are definite companies that I should warn against buying any diamonds from, De Beers being one of them, but instead, I’ll focus on where you SHOULD be buying diamonds! Below are a few websites of very well established and respected sources, of which you will have no hesitation buying from. With these resources and educated decisions, diamonds, at last, will continue to sparkle and CAN be a glamorous girl’s best friend!