"Diamonds are forever" it is often said.  But lives are not. We must spare people the ordeal of war, mutilations and death for the sake of conflict diamonds."1

What are conflict diamonds?
Conflict diamonds or “blood diamonds” are “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.”2

Amnesty International reports that warlords and rebels used billions of dollars of profits from the sale of diamonds to buy weapons used in the recent wars in Angola, the Congo, and Sierra Leone. Although the wars in Angola and Sierra Leone are over and fighting in the Congo has lessened, rebels in Cote d’
Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) and Liberia still profit from diamonds sold on the international diamond market.  Together, these wars have led to the deaths of approximately 3.7 million  people.3

Legitimate African governments, however, such as Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, use the profits from rough diamond sales to build their economies and promote education and

What is being done to stop the sale of conflict diamonds?
In 2003, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (
KPCS) was introduced. The Kimberley Process requires its members to certify that its diamond shipments are “conflict-free,” meaning that they do not finance rebel groups. By September 2007, seventy-four countries agreed to follow the Kimberley Process, accounting for approximately 99.8% of producers of rough diamond worldwide. Only KPCS members are allowed to trade in diamonds with each other. The United States is a member of the KPCS, meaning that the import of non-Kimberley Process-certified diamonds to the United States is illegal. The KPCS received endorsement from the United Nations.2

How can consumers know whether  retail diamonds are “conflict-free?”
KPCS recommends that consumers ask diamond retailers the following questions before purchasing diamonds:
1. How can I be sure your jewelry does not contain conflict diamonds?
2. Do your diamond suppliers participate in the industry’s “System of Warranties?”
3. Can I see a copy of your company’s policy on conflict diamonds?

The System of Warranties is a regulatory system that is separate from the Kimberley Process, but is endorsed by the
KPCS. Under the System of Warranties, buyers and sellers of diamonds must file the invoices that track where a particular diamond has been, proving that it was mined, exported, and imported legitimately. Additionally, they must affirm on invoices that their diamonds are “conflict-free.”2

The following is an example of an invoice that contains a System of Warranties declaration

If a retailer cannot provide documentation to prove the origins of its diamonds, or if you do not feel satisfied by a retailer’s answers, feel comfortable refusing to purchase from that retailer. 

If conflict diamonds are illegal in the United States, why should American consumers be wary when purchasing diamonds?
Although the KPCS has made great strides in keeping conflict diamonds from the retail market, the system is not foolproof.  Corruption and insufficient monitoring of the diamond industry enable conflict diamonds to seep through the KPCS's protective measures.  Therefore, when purchasing diamonds, consumers should still be careful to ask the questions listed above.3  Furthermore, the KPCS is undergoing further improvement to become more effective.2

1 Martin Chungong Ayafor,  Chairman of the Sierra Leone Panel of Experts, "Conflict Diamonds,” 21 March 2000, United Nations Department of Public Information 
in cooperation with the Sanctions Branch, Security Council Affairs Division, Department of Political Affairs, 7 December 2008 http://www.un.org/peace /africa/Diamond.html      
2 “Background,” Kimberley Process, 7 December 2008 http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/background/index_en.html 
3 “Conflict Diamonds,” 2007, Amnesty International USA, 7 December 2008 
4 “Economic Impact,” World Diamond Council, 7 December 2008 http://diamondfacts.org/difference/economic_impact.html

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