Diamonds can change many lives. Some are happy to show out their new bling, some are glad to make money on diamond sales, others are spending their days shoveling and sifting gravel to have the opportunity to eat. It's time to talk about blood diamonds.
What are Blood Diamonds?
Blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, are stones that have been mined in rebel areas using slave or forced labour of men, women and children. Blood diamonds are also the stones that have been stolen during shipment from their legitimate producers or the stones that will fund further forced labour, wars and conflicts.
The rebels sell these diamonds to arms merchants, smugglers and dishonest diamond traders to purchase arms and to fund their military actions. The stones are then smuggled into the international diamond market and sold as legitimate gemstones.
It's really important to realize when buying a blood diamond, you are funding human suffering. However, most people don't even know what diamonds they buy and this is where the trouble is.
In Fight Against Blood Diamonds
The first step in the fight against blood diamonds was taken by the United Nations in 1998. That is when they discovered that blood diamonds have been used to fund military conflicts in African nations.
Then, in 2000 the South African diamond-producing countries conducted an official meeting which took place in Kimberley, South Africa. This meeting started "The Kimberley Process".
In 2003 the World Diamond Council officially banned the trade of conflict diamonds from South Africa through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme acts as an official certificate that provides the origin of every singly stone and guarantees that it is not funding any military conflict, meaning that's a proof the diamond is 'conflict-free'.
The KPCS has been approved by the United Nations in 2002 and has been accepted by most diamond-producing countries in 2003.
Several countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Liberia and New Zealand joined the KPCS in 2005-2007, and Swaziland, Panama, Cameroon and Kazakhstan in 2011-2012.
It's important to mention that the United States, being the largest consumer of diamonds in the world, took a significant role in the Kimberley Process and reduced conflict diamonds worldwide. President Clinton prohibited the import of diamonds in the US from Sierra Leone on January 18, 2001. While President Bush banned the import from Liberia as well on May 21, 2001.
Today the official amount of blood or conflict diamonds is about 1% of all stones worldwide. Although 1% may seem to be nothing compared to the other conflict-free 99% of diamonds, this small amount still fuels few armed conflicts in Africa.
How to Buy Conflict-Free Diamonds Today?
The first step to buying conflict-free diamonds is ensuring that they have a Kimberley Process Certificate. This way you may be sure that they money you pay won't be used to fund an open military conflict.
Today, almost all official vendors offer such certificates for their diamonds to prove they are not funding slavery and wars.
The second step is to research the country of origin of the diamond you are going to buy. For example, a diamond from Canada or New Zealand and a diamond form a poorer country will both have a Kimberley Process Certificate, but these is a huge difference in terms of how ethically they have been mined because miners might be working in different conditions.
Take a look at our Modern Diamond Mining Article, to learn more about the sustainable practices are carried out by Diamond Mining firms to ensure their actions aren't adversely affecting the people, community and planet.