‘Blood’ and ‘conflict’ diamonds exploit workers, harm the environment, and are used to fund wars
They are beautiful, revered and coveted beyond any other precious gemstone on earth.
Diamonds have always held a particular fascination for their extraordinary beauty and relative rarity. Diamonds have been mined from approximately 1000 BC, but since then, only 350 tons of diamonds have been taken from the earth, most of which are too small and unsuitable for use in jewelry. Accordingly, larger size diamonds are expensive and much sought after in the luxury jewelry world.
But at what cost?
A closer look at the mined diamond industry reveals an unsavory, behind-the-scenes history of worker exploitation, poor wages, organized crime, child and migrant labor and human trafficking. So-called ‘conflict’ diamonds have also played a substantial role in funding anti-government wars in Africa, indirectly causing untold suffering and misery in their wake.
So, what exactly are ‘conflict diamonds’? According to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which was a commission set up in 2003 and ratified by the United Nations to try to prevent ‘conflict diamonds’ from entering the market, they are “rough diamonds mined in an area controlled by insurgent forces whose sale is used to finance anti-government military action.”
Unfortunately, this definition would allow diamonds mined in Zimbabwe, a country notorious for killing and maiming thousands of child and adult workers to be declared ‘conflict free.’ Despite the cruelty and horrific mining conditions under which these workers suffer, the diamonds they mine would qualify, and be certified by the Kimberley Process as ‘clean’, ‘conflict free’ and sold to unassuming diamond consumers who think they are making an ‘ethical’ choice.
In fact, conflict diamonds continue to flood out of Africa as well as other countries such as Brazil, Russia and India, where it is difficult to closely monitor the age or ethical treatment of their workers. Over the past few years, experts estimate that around 60 million carats of confirmed blood diamonds have hit the international market - and are now being purchased by unsuspecting consumers.
Many diamond workers are underpaid and work in dangerous conditions, with little or no training or safety equipment, because the object is to extract the diamonds at the lowest possible cost to the mine owner. Worker protection is the last consideration, so accidents and deaths from landslides or mine collapses can be common in smaller-scale mining operations.
And then there are the adverse effects on environment and on human health. Irresponsible mining has led to extensive soil erosion, ecological devastation and deforestation, forcing local populations to relocate. It has had a particularly damaging effect on rivers, which have been re-routed and dams constructed to expose the riverbeds for mining purposes, with disastrous consequences on fish and wildlife. In some places, diamond-mining can cause entire ecosystems to be destroyed. In Sierra Leone, for example, thousands of abandoned diamonds mines have resulted in a desolate landscape, with no wildlife and extensive topsoil erosion. There is no more farming possible in these areas. Abandoned mining pits, which fill with stagnant water, have become infested with mosquitoes spreading deadly malaria and other diseases.
The cost is too high for ethically minded consumers.
If you are in the market for a diamond engagement or other jewelry as a gift for a special person in your life, you may want to think about the journey your earth-mined diamond may have taken to reach you – and how many people have suffered or been hurt along the way. You may not want the symbol of your love and commitment to be associated with controversy and pain. The 81.4 billion diamond industry still operates with low-paid, abused workers on one end and the glittering showcases of high-end jewelry retailers on the other – despite the efforts of the Kimberley Process.
There is a beautiful – and more affordable solution. At Stefano Navi we only use lab-grown diamonds, made through a scientific process that mimics the natural processes that create earth grown diamonds. They have exactly the same chemical, optical and physical properties as earth-mined diamonds; in fact, many experts cannot tell the difference. Best of all, you can buy one with a clear conscience - and with considerably less of a drain on your wallet.
Lab-grown diamonds are real. They are stunning, affordable, eco-friendly, and most importantly, they will always be ‘conflict’ and ‘blood’ free. Shop conflict free diamond jewelry here.