Long before the Leonardi DiCaprio movie Blood Diamond hit theatres, violence, corruption, and abuse was a problem in the diamond mining industry. Diamonds are valuable, but not as rare as many people believe. The diamond industry has exaggerated the rarity of the gems in order to increase their profits. There are companies that mine their diamonds ethically, but unfortunately, the problem of human rights abuses is widespread and has cost a number of lives in countries where mining is a vital part of the industry. Buying a diamond with no violence attached to its retrieval can be a challenge, and the Kimberly Process is based on "self-policing". By choosing to purchase an Eco Diamond, you are guaranteed a piece of jewelry that is free of the abuses with which many diamonds are associated and that you are getting a gemstone that offers a consistency and quality unlike any other brand on the market.
While the average shopper in the market for an engagement ring is not ever going to understand all of the issues behind diamond mining, they can make an effort to educate themselves before making a purchase.
It is important to understand the terms associated with diamonds that have been mined under abusive circumstances. A blood diamond is one that was mined in a war zone. The diamond is then sold and the funds are put toward a violent insurgency, given to a warlord, or sold to fund the army of an invading country, which is most commonly in Africa. The citizens of the country from which the diamond was mined receive no benefit from their natural resource and in most cases, suffer because of the sale. Conflict free diamonds are those not affiliated with any violence or abuse. They originate via ethical and environmentally responsible means, and generally found in Canada. The people of the mining country of the diamond are not injured or abused and in some cases, the country's economy benefits from the mining and sale of the diamonds.
The Kimberly Process
After much media attention and public outcry, the Kimberley Process was created in 2003 to address the problem of conflict diamonds. A voluntary and self policing international certification system, the Kimberley Process established standards for certifying the origin of rough diamonds with member countries pledging not to import or export rough diamonds tainted by conflict.
Unfortunately, the Kimberley Process does not oversee other human rights abuses including child labor, government sponsored violence, and worker exploitation. Currently, it only addresses the narrow UN definition of conflict diamonds as diamonds used to fund conflicts against recognized governments -- despite the fact that some recognized governments, in Zimbabwe, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for instance, have shown little regard for the human rights of their citizenry.
To date, the Kimberley Process also ignores cutting and polishing centers as an entry point for conflict diamonds to enter general circulation. Global Witness documents how inadequate government regulation over cutting and polishing factories can allow conflict or illicit diamonds to enter legitimate channels of trade. Because the Kimberley Process only oversees diamond mines and has no oversight over cutting and polishing facilities, child labor and other documented human rights violations in manufacturing centers remain unregulated.
It remains to be seen whether the Kimberley Process will strengthen its system of oversight. Meanwhile, violent groups across the world continue to exploit the loose controls of the Kimberley Process to traffic illicit diamonds for profit. In its October 2007 report, Global Witness estimates that an illegal trade in rough diamonds worth tens of millions may be taking place between Kimberley Process participant and non-participant countries.
The Alternative to Diamonds
Many times people end up with a conflict diamond because they are unaware of what goes on in the diamond industry. They also do not realize there are options that provide just as elegant and stylish a piece of jewelry. Eco Diamonds provide a completely conflict-free option for those looking for an engagement ring that is environmentally and socially responsible, but still impressive and elegant. Since Eco Diamonds are set in the finest quality metals, the same ones used by most of the reputable jewelers in the United States, your ring will be as beautiful as the most popular and expensive diamond engagement rings on the market. Eco Diamonds science of precision cutting provides extraordinary brilliance and offers stones that possess an inner fire unlike any other. But because your piece of jewelry will be conflict and abuse free, you will be able to rest easy at night, knowing you have made a responsible choice.
Loopholes in the Kimberley Process: Summary of trade statistics review (Global Witness, Oct 20, 2007)
Blood Diamonds are Still a Reality (Amnesty International, Jan 23, 2007)
Diamonds still make profits for terrorists and corporations alike (Amnesty USA)
CARAT, COLOR, CLARITY... AND CONFLICT
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Endorse Ban on Blood Diamonds
Most likely in the hopes of bringing more attention, more headline, and more financial support to this issue in particular and human rights abuses in general, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are issuing a statement through their foundation and through HRW. According to HRW's executive director, "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have issued a call for a ban on any sale or purchase of Marange diamonds until the mining is not based on the violent abuse of residents in that region."
Human Rights Watch said Friday that Zimbabwe's armed forces have taken over diamond fields in the east and killed more than 200 people, forcing children to search for the precious gems and beating villagers who get in the way.
The New York-based organization said its call for a ban on diamonds from the region had received an endorsement from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. A statement from the couple's foundation was expected later Friday.
"Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have issued a call for a ban on any sale or purchase of Marange diamonds until the mining is not based on the violent abuse of residents in that region," said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director.
Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said the group is calling for the definition of blood diamonds to be broadened to include gems mined through "repression and violent abuses" by governments.
Further reading: http://www.zimbabwesituation.org/?p=11222