Conflict & Greed
The True Cost of a Diamond
Would you consider the environmental impact, the poorly paid diamond mining communities or the tragedies that continue to pervade from the sale of conflict diamonds? How would you place a diamond’s true value once you know these issues?
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, diamond-rich regions have endured unspeakable devastation on account of their wealth. The terms "conflict diamond" and "blood diamond" only entered the public consciousness in recent years, as the funds used to conduct deadly civil wars in Africa were traced back to diamonds.
It is widely known in the jewellery industry that blood diamonds are smuggled into other regions; these illicit diamonds then become indistinguishable from legitimate stones.
Quoting an excerpt from The Naked Truth:
"Six years after the blood diamond issue came to international attention, the industry has failed to change its practices. International diamond trade bodies have issued countless press releases and statements claiming that the problem has been solved, but have provided little information on what they have actually done to fix it and fulfil their promises. Despite vast profits made by many in the diamond industry – little has been invested to ensure that blood diamonds will not be able to enter the legitimate trade".
Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, typically refers to a diamond mined in war zones and sold to finance an insurgency or warlords activity, usually in Africa. According to the Global Policy Forum, conflict diamonds date back to the early 1900s when European entrepreneurs gained control of diamond mines by instigating wars between African tribes. Over a hundred years later, conflict diamonds are still affecting the lives, resulting in death and displacement of millions of people.
Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda also use diamonds for money laundering purposes and to finance their activities.
Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia and Sierra Leone are still recovering from widespread devastation resulting from wars funded by diamonds.
Diamonds continue to be used for money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime.
Smuggling is also rampant in the industry, making the global diamond trade one of the largest black markets in the world. Diamonds are still fuelling conflict.
In West Africa, diamonds from the rebel-held area of Côte d’Ivoire are being mined and are smuggled through neighbouring countries to international markets. The United Nations has recently reported that poor controls are allowing up to $23 million of conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire entering the legitimate trade through Ghana and Mali, where they are being certified as conflict-free.
Diamond smuggling intensifies violence and instability in diamond-producing regions. It also reduces the amount of money flowing back into diamond-producing communities, depriving governments of tax revenues needed for basic services.
Jewellers refer to the 4 C's of a diamond. That is, its colour, cut, clarity, and carat.
They all combine to determine the price of a diamond.
However, there is another C marketed by some unscrupulous companies as "conflict Free" and/or Canadian diamonds. They are in effect attempting to place themselves on a higher moral ground.
What About a Canadian Diamond?
Canadian diamonds are a pricey misconception. Although they aren’t as tarnished as blood diamonds, they are still in conflict with the environment, the ecology and the communities within the mining areas in Canada.
The moral bankruptcy of the diamond industry is illustrated very clearly in Canadian diamonds. The poor environmental history of their mines, which operate in ecologically sensitive areas, speaks volumes. Yet the producers and retailers of Canadian diamonds falsely sing in unison about their superior provenance.
Independent mining watchdog Mining Watch Canada has openly reported its observations, damning the Canadian diamond industry.