Conflict (or ‘blood’) diamonds are diamonds that have been sourced and traded through illegal means in order to fund conflict. The term was coined in the last 1990s when rebels in some African countries used diamonds to fund armed movements against legitimate governments and caused many human rights abuses. At the height of the problem, diamonds from these sources accounted for around 4% of the world’s diamond supply. With the initiatives the industry has put in place, they now account for considerably less than 1%.
What is being done about the problem of conflict diamonds?
In 2002, the World’s Governments concluded their agreement on how to control the flow of rough diamonds through a certification scheme known as the Kimberley Process. From 1 January 2003, all shipments of rough diamonds have been documented, tracked by customs services and imports and exports reconciled between governments. The aim is to halt the trade in illicit diamonds which has funded rebel armies and arms supplies in parts of Africa. From the late 1990’s, the international diamond industry has been taking steps to address the problem of conflict or “blood” diamonds. Working with world governments, the United Nations and other humanitarian NGOs, two important programs were established in 2003 to ensure that only legitimately sourced diamonds are traded. The two programs are called the Kimberley Process Certification System (KP) and the System of Warranties (SoW). All diamonds traded after 1 January 2003 are required to comply with these programs.
What is the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme?
The Kimberley Process sets rules for the import and export of rough diamonds, ensuring that every shipment of diamonds that crosses a border must be certified, numbered and sealed. The diamonds are shipped in tamper-resistant containers and accompanied by government validated certificates in order to verify the diamonds have been sourced from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict.
How does the System of Warranties works?
The diamond industry also adopted a System of Warranties to further assure consumers of their diamonds. Once imported and ready to be traded, a written statement must accompany all invoices, guaranteeing that the diamonds or diamond jewellery being sold are from legitimate sources.
Each time that a diamond changes hands, the seller must attest to the diamond’s legitimacy by means of a warranty. The document’s content as agreed to by the International Diamond Manufacturers Association and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, is:
“The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.”
Diamond traders and diamond jewellery manufacturers are required to keep records of their invoices and have them audited on an annual basis.
How can I be absolutely sure I am not buying a conflict diamond?
You can only be sure by buying jewellery from a reputable, jewellery professional. All members of the British Jewellers Association and The National Association of Goldsmiths are committed to eliminating trade in conflict diamonds and, as such, have put in place an auditable means by which they can prove all diamonds sold comply with the World Diamond Council Kimberley Process.