Blood Diamonds - Continued

Bryan RSeptember 21st, 2007
By: Bryan R

(Page 2 of 2)

Blood diamonds exist; the real question is how abundant are they? Estimates vary, but sources suggested that anywhere between 5% to 15% of the diamonds sold in 1999 were blood diamonds [1]. Also, between 1990 and 2000 some $10 billion worth of clandestine diamonds traded hands [2].

At the moment, the most accepted source of information is the publications of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). KPCS was established in response to the blood diamond trade with the hope of establishing a set of protocols that would stop the flow of blood diamonds. However, since the diamond industry plays an influential role in the KPCS (via their spokes/lobby-group the World Diamond Council which has a large roll in the KPCS), it raises questions about a possible conflict of interests. According to the KPCS, since 2006 only 0.2% of all diamonds traded on the world market were blood diamonds. However, independent verification of this is necessary.

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Harsh mining conditions

Call me cynical, but it's a bit remarkable that in seven years the number of blood diamonds has dropped by over twenty times. Although several parts of Africa have witnessed a decrease in violence and conflict, an alternative explanation has been offered to account for at least part of this decrease in blood diamond trafficking. Several loopholes have been identified that have allowed blood diamonds to slip through the system. First, smugglers have become skilled in creating forged records that can hide the original source of a stone. Also, although the KPCS helps filter out blood diamonds during production, it does not require the end-seller, like a jeweler, to distribute certified diamonds.

Potential diamond customers can help end the blood diamond trade. When browsing for diamond jewelry, ask the jewelers to be sure that none of the diamonds for sale are blood diamonds. Also, see if they know where their diamonds were mined, and if they have a company policy regarding blood diamonds. The jeweler should be happy to answer your questions; if they aren’t, take your business elsewhere! It’s important to ask these questions. A recent survey of jewelers found that only 11% of U.S. jewelry stores have a policy against blood diamonds while 67% weren’t even willing to discuss the matter [3].

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Child laborers

Although the blood diamond trade is in recession, “fair trade” diamonds aren’t yet a blip on the radar. Blood diamonds are stones produced under slave like conditions. But just because a stone isn't a blood diamond, it doesn't mean that the miner is fairly paid for their work or that the mining conditions are safe. For example, child labor is standard in the DRC. “It [diamond mining] is a dangerous job. But we have no choice. We have to come here every day," stated 13-year-old miner Diaza Kalubuendela [4]. Though no fair trade standard exists for precious stones, your chances of finding a more ethical diamond improves if your stone is from Canada, Australia or other select nations.

Diamond mining is a dirty business, and blood diamonds are some of the dirtiest diamonds around. However, substantial efforts are being made to clean up the industry. Armed with the right questions and information, picking out a diamond ring for your loved one doesn’t have to turn into a moral quagmire.

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Articles in Series
  1. A Girl's Best Friend - The Dirt on Blood Diamonds
  2. Blood Diamonds - Continued
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