What Are Conflict Diamonds?

Diamonds have long been a beautiful addition to all kinds of jewelry.  One of the things that makes them so desirable is the price tag that they carry.  People from around the world have looked to profit from these wonderful gems.  Conflict diamonds are one way that bad people have looked to profit from diamonds.

Conflict diamonds come from any entity that is trading them illegally in order to fund war in conflicted parts of the globe.  Mainly, in central and western Africa.  In order to get these diamonds, rebels force others to mine them under inhumane conditions.  These diamonds are often also referred to as blood diamonds for all of the innocent lives that they affect.

Despite the fact that diamonds have been used by rebels to fund their initiatives for ages, they came to the front of people’s attention in the late 90’s.  While these diamonds represented only 4% of the world’s production, people started to learn about these diamonds and became outraged.

Stopping Fixing The Conflict Diamonds

Together as an industry, diamond sellers and merchants made it clear to everyone that they were not going to stand for diamonds that were sold to fund killing.  Conflict diamonds became an industry taboo.  The United Nations and organizations worked with the diamond industry to help stop the sale of these diamonds.

Part of the prohibition on conflict diamonds was the creation of a system known as the Kimberly Process Certification System.  This process requires that rough diamonds be certified as conflict free.  It also requires that countries not import anything but certified diamonds.  Going beyond that, the Kimberley Process also states that you can only trade with other countries who follow the process.

Conflict Diamonds

Current State Of Conflict Diamonds

The world has managed to stamp out the majority of conflict diamonds.  According to the Kimberley Process official website, 99.8% of conflict diamonds have been cut from production.

Stamping out conflict diamonds is not complete.  There are still plenty of loop holes to get conflict diamonds through to the international market and it is estimated that about 1% of diamonds still come from conflict zones.  TIME magazine did a piece where they illustrated the pain and suffering that has come from this industry.  Kids who go to mines to work because otherwise there is no way their family will get fed.

Conflict mines have no safety regulations, and as such, often have problems such as cave ins and most of them go unreported.  Hundreds of deaths happen each year due to diamond mining.

Countries like Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast still have problems with conflict diamonds.  Both countries use the profits from these diamonds to fuel the unrest in the area and the money finds its way into the death of hundreds more each year.  Instead of using modern methods for gathering diamonds, conflict diamonds are gathered by digging into mud or sifting through rivers with bare hands.  Hand held sieves are used to separate out material, much like in the gold rush days.

Conflict Diamonds

It is important to note that rebels don’t have to be the ones selling conflict diamonds.  A national leader who mistreats their miners by beating them, and or killing them, and uses the money to fund a corrupt military would also be included.   Such was the case for Zimbabwe in 2010.  It was alleged that the Mugabe regime used beatings and killings to force their miners to work for the military.  The military in turn ended up killing hundreds of their miners.  Allegedly, the money that the Zimbabwe military gathered from the diamonds went into making the process repeat itself full circle while the government (and rulers) got richer.

In 2006 a film titled Blood Diamond came out staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly.  While being an entertainment film, it is made to also highlight the world of conflict diamonds.  It received 8 awards and 31 nominations.  While the film might be slightly farfetched, it isn’t too far from the truth.

It is crucial that you ensure that any diamonds you purchase are not conflict diamonds.  Supporting the people who have created such terrible conditions in war torn countries is simply not an option.  Asking a jeweler where they get there diamonds from may seem like a rude question, but it has become one that many of them are used to.  And it isn’t rude to ask.

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