My Itch: Conflict Diamonds

There is a new movie coming out. It’s called Blood Diamond and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou.

No, I’m not doing a movie review. I’m not even sure when it is going to be released here in Godzone. What I am doing is scratching my itch again.

I have a diamond ring. It’s my engagement ring. I have absolutely no idea if it was a conflict diamond. When we looked for a jeweller to make or buy a ring from it never even crossed my mind that such things as blood diamonds existed.
I hope to encourage this not to happen to others.

What is a blood diamond you ask?
Here’s the UN’s definition:

Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.

And here is the Wikipedia version:

A blood diamond (also called a conflict diamond or a war diamond) is a diamond mined in a war zone and sold, usually clandestinely, in order to finance an insurgent or invading army’s war efforts.

So, basically this is kind of like the old ivory trade only the money is used to fund rebellion and political instability in countries that really, really could use a bit of peace and prosperity!

But don’t think it is all about money. Because it isn’t.
You might want to see what conflict diamonds can do to children living in these war zones. First take a visit to the World Vision website and scroll down this entry to the image of 14 year old Adaman. And if that’s not quite enough to make you ask questions at your next visit to the jewellers, perhaps a visit to the UN’s webpage about conflict diamonds and the photograph of the child with no hands might.

I didn’t know any better. It isn’t really a great excuse, but it is the truth.
If like me, you have some sort of social conscience, don’t repeat my mistake.
Ask questions of your jeweller. If they can’t answer your questions, move on.
The World Diamond Council even addresses this issue on their website. It can be quite fascinating reading to see what has been implemented in an attempt to curb the access to market of blood diamonds. Even though there is good work going on, it is always a good thing to be vigilant if Amnesty International’s statistics are anything to go by. Apparently 67% of the stores visited were unwilling to discuss if they had guarantees in place for the diamonds they sold. What the??

If you are looking for a piece of jewellery, you can always read Amnesty International’s Buyers Guide, and follow their suggestions.

Personally I have rummaged through my files and found the original guarantees / valuations and sundry other things to do with the engagement ring. There is nothing to say where the diamond was sourced or what its country of origin is. But I have found the website of the diamond’s “trademark” and have sent an email requesting information.
I’m not particularly hopeful, but New Zealand is a participant in the Kimberley Process and I am pinning my hopes on that meaning there will be a trail for my diamond and that I can not only smile at my ring with fond memories of being presented with it, but also smile with a clear conscience that no child was maimed to have it sitting on my finger.

I’ll let you know if I make any progress.

In the meantime, if you are lucky enough to be shopping for a diamond, remember to ask questions about origins, guarantees, and the Kimberley Process. Then happily take home your guilt-free diamond and enjoy that wonderful sparkle.


2 thoughts on “My Itch: Conflict Diamonds

  1. So diamonds are Conflict’s best friend?

    With my head in the sand, I’d never even heard about this (Simone had however). Maybe there is some merit in compressing the ashes of dead loved ones into a diamond after all?

    I hope this knowledge doesn’t dampen your enjoyment of your ring. I find it extremely sad that we should have to ask such questions when buying goods: Is the coffee fair trade? Was the shirt made in a sweatshop? Should I buy produce from a country bombing the Lebanese?

    I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica and what makes it “real” (cf. the utopian Star Trek universe) is all the in-fighting, back-stabbing, self-preservation, lack of cooperation, and open hostility that defines the human race. It’s enough to make you empathise with the Cylons.


  2. It’s sad to think that something so pretty can cause so many ugly things to happen. Or rather, a shame that some ugly humans can use something so pretty to do ugly things to others.

    We like to think that we civilised (see your Star Trek reference) but we are in fact not far removed from our instinctual animal origins sometimes (as per BG).

    I can honestly say that I don’t love my ring any less, but I won’t be blind and naive should I ever be looking for a diamond anything in the future.

    On the one hand I agree that it is a sad state of affairs that we feel the need to enquire about our purchases, but on the other it shows that we are becoming better informed and less inclined to “turn a blind eye” to things.


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