Why should you avoid buying conflict diamonds?
You would not buy biscuits knowing that the person who made them hasn’t eaten anything for days. The same goes for your diamonds. Conflict or blood diamonds come from illicit mines and poverty-stricken areas at the cost of the miners’ human rights. Such diamonds are mined from certain parts of Central and West Africa.
There is a slight difference between conflict diamonds and blood diamonds. Conflict diamonds get their name because they are used to fund wars against legitimate governments. They lead to major conflicts within a nation or a region which also affects the country’s population.
On the other hand, blood diamonds are those that are mined by poor and often unpaid labourers. Many people and sometimes, entire villages are forced into slavery or even murdered to get access to these mines.
Most of the time, these villagers do not have food, water or proper shelter and work under rather inhumane conditions. The strain of the labour or the unsafe mining process leads to their deaths.
If you were to look up stories on the internet, you would know that children are the worst affected. Small and poor kids are sent into illegal mines to look for rough diamonds.
They are forced to do this work because their parents are too poor to provide any food or send them to school. They work for some food or very meagre wages.
People who control the illegal trading of diamonds ensure that the miners cannot escape their situation. Hence, they are either underpaid or given small amounts of food so that they are forced to continue working. They cannot leave this work behind and slowly become slaves who continue mining for diamonds in this way.
Most blood diamonds are rough diamonds that are mined by poor and helpless miners with no alternatives. However, rebels in conflict areas also rob legitimate diamond mining companies and seize their stones. Even these stolen diamonds are called conflict diamonds because they are sold to fund illegal firearms and military operations.
It is difficult to know which diamonds are conflict and which ones are not. It is only possible to determine this at the source. Once conflict diamonds are cut and brought into the mainstream trade, not even experienced gemologists can identify them.
In order to tackle the problem of conflict diamonds, the United Nations established the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in 2003. Under this scheme, countries that trade diamonds must certify the processes through which their diamonds were obtained.
According to the World Diamond Council, about 99% of the world’s diamonds are now conflict-free. Since its inception, the Kimberley Process has successfully put an end to the flow of conflict diamonds into the mainstream diamond industry.
Customers who buy diamonds receive a diamond certificate from an international laboratory which states that the diamonds are conflict-free. The lack of a certificate indicates that there is something wrong with the stone.
Diamonds that come from conflict-free sources are much easier to account for. Instead of bonded labour, workers can work for proper wages and salaries. Many diamond jewellery brands also undertake initiatives to educate poor children and keep them away from illegal mining.