I’ve been reading about conflict diamonds (Blood diamonds) in the press – what’s it all about?
Diamonds are mined in parts of Africa, Canada, Russia and Australia. A few years ago the jewellery industry learned that in some parts of Africa, small scale diamond mining was being exploited by illegal militias to support civil war and conflict. These diamonds have been called “Conflict Diamonds” or sometimes “Blood Diamonds”.
Can you tell me about the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process was designed by the United Nations and the World Diamond Council to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate jewellery supply chains. Around 70 countries now participate in the Kimberley Process to make sure that where they have diamond mining it is strictly supervised and that diamonds, in their “rough” state (before cutting and polishing) can only be transferred between participating countries in tamper proof containers, under strict controls and with the appropriate documentation. All shipments are reconciled internationally.
I’ve heard there’s a film about the diamond trade.
Yes, its called “Blood Diamond” with Leonardo DiCaprio as a diamond smuggler in Sierra Leone. The movie was released in January 2007. It is set in the 1990s before the trade got to grips with the problem, so it doesn’t reflect what is happening now.
I’m looking for a diamond but I’m be worried that it might contain conflict diamonds?
It’s highly unlikely – the Kimberley Process came into force in January 2003 and by now it covers over 99% of the world diamond trade.
How can I be sure that these are not conflict diamonds?
Most of the conflicts in Africa are over now but the controls will stay in place to make sure rebels can’t get funds to fuel future conflicts.
What are you doing to make sure you don’t sell conflict diamonds
To prevent conflict diamonds getting into our supply chain we have written procedures to make sure we only buy from suppliers who give us a warranty on their invoices that they don’t buy conflict diamonds.
Can I see your purchase invoices?
No – they are confidential to the company.
Where do these diamonds come from?
Diamonds come from Africa, Russia, Canada and Australia but before they are cut and polished they are usually sorted and graded by size, colour, quality and clarity and this means mixing up diamonds from different countries of origin to get economies in cutting and polishing.
Should I avoid diamonds from Africa if that’s where the problems are?
For many parts of Africa diamonds are an important mineral resource. Mining diamonds provides jobs and money for housing, schools, healthcare and social programmes. Some countries are investing in cutting and polishing factories as well. So buying diamonds makes a positive contribution to the lives of people in these areas.