"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
healthcare.4

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?”
The
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
2:

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 
http://www.amnestyusa.org/business-and-human-rights/conflict-diamonds/page.do?id=1051176  
4 “Economic Impact,” World Diamond Council, 7 December 2008 http://diamondfacts.org/difference/economic_impact.html

Readers, please let us know if you found this blog informative.  Comments are greatly appreciated.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had no idea this problem even existed. Thank you so much for bring it to my attention. Next time I buy a diamond--or someone buys a diamond for me, I'll try to remember this blog.
-DL

Anonymous said...

Very informative!

Anonymous said...

thank you for all your information on the diamond industry. i am a daily shopper and many people i see at the mall have no idea where the diamonds they are buying come from.
-stern student

Faygel said...

Very clear and enlightening. Till now I did not know about conflict diamonds. Now its something I realize I can be proactive about.

Sarah said...

Before reading this article I never heard of the word blood diamonds. I had no idea what blood diamonds were. After reading this article I have a clear understanding as to what blood diamonds are. The article was concise and informative. When my future fiancee is going to be buying my diamond I will inform him to ask the relevant questions!
-Sarah G

Yair said...

Thank you for broaching this important topic. I learned a lot.

Kayla said...

I was aware that this problem existed however, I did not care or so much about it. Now I know. Thank you for the information

liz said...

I did not know this was ever an issue, I think if people knew about his conflict there would be more thought before buying a diamond!

Melissa said...

Great idea, important to be informed!

Yocheved said...

Very interesting, informative, and well-written. Thank you so much!
Have a great day! :-)
-YG

Hadassa said...

Thank you for an excellent introduction to this important topic. Even those people who do not usually concern themselves with international affairs and problems cannot help but be moved by your blog. Best of all, you suggest easy, small ways that we can make a difference.

riva said...

I had seen a movie about blood diamonds, and therefore I was aware of the issue, but I was unaware of all of the laws, and of the fact that is possible to buy a conflict diamond in the U.S. I am much better informed now and will keep this information in mind when purchasing diamonds in the future!
Thank you!

Nava said...

I found the movie, Blood Diamond, a moving and informative account about the conflict. I think it is an important video to promote. Perhaps it would be a good idea to mention it in the Blog as well.

rhedaya said...

This was extremely informative and I love the layout of the website- very well made. The information is very clear and well organized. When decide to liquidate all my assets and put it all into diamonds, I will definitely insist on the jewelers verification on the diamonds to make sure they are peace diamonds.

Peace Diamonds administrator said...

Nava,

Thanks for your suggestion. If you're interested, you can check out a music video based on the movie, Blood Diamonds, on the right-hand side of the main page.

Anonymous said...

This blog was really informative- and I really enjoyed it. I think that blogs like this can really make a difference in the world- because people will now be more aware. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea about this problem before I read this email and I was very impressed with how the issue was presented. It was explained clearly and gave good suggestions on how we can each do our part. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great work

Adina said...

i had heard of blood diamonds before but never knew so much about them. this blog did a really great job explaining them.

Anonymous said...

This blog is wonderful. Both eloquent and informative, the content really perks one's ears about this grave issue.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting

Anonymous said...

I am very appreciative that someone has taken the time to raise awareness on this issue of conflict diamonds. The fact that diamond profits are used for the financing of war, violence, and bloodshed is something that I has bothered me for a while, as well as the unfair treatment of diamond mine workers. I hope that the efforts to raise awareness and advocate peace diamonds will produce real tangible results, and that the diamonds that live forever, can help mankind live lives of peace.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great issue to bring to attention on our campus, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I would like to make a suggestion as far as what can we do- when we ask about diamonds' origins, what should we look out for? How can we tell if it's the truth or not?

Thanks again.

nsc said...

Very informative and well written.

Peace Diamonds Administrator said...

In response to the last anonymous post's question: "when we ask about diamonds' origins, what should we look out for? How can we tell if it's the truth or not?"

You've hit upon a fault in the system that really needs correction. At the moment, the KPCS and the System of Warranties are not foolproof. That's why better oversight of the system is required. As a consumer, though, you can ask questions of your retailer to get a sense of the efforts that it is making to avoid selling conflict diamonds. If the retailer can't explain its business practices, then you may be well-advised in purchasing jewelry elsewhere.

Revere said...

This is a horrible topic. I have learned recently that they are starting to sell the conflict diamonds on social networking sites. Very tragic....

Anonymous said...

Peace Diamonds is very interesting to say the least. I found out about Peace Diamonds from my university e-mail.
My name is April and I was born in April, April's stone is the diamond. However I have always chosen not to purchase or be gifted a diamond due to the money power and greed behind them.
In reading the interesting article on Peace Diamonds, I read a lot of stuff regarding "non conflict" and "sustainable" - keeping the polishing and cutting with in factories close by to the diamond harvesting, which saves money and puts people to work. However, I did not read anything about the "people", how the people are treated, what does the working environment consist of, how are the people treated, are there promises that are not met, are there good wages for all the hard work, benefits and so forth.
Thank you, April