Sourcing Ethically Mined and Cut Diamonds

Everyone involved in profiting from diamonds, from NGOs who raise the blood diamond issue to their donors, DeBeers, to the average jeweler, markets to a target audience. In the retail sector, issues of quality and price are in the forefront and information on the ―4 Cs is easily available.
The question of what exactly constitutes an ethically sourced diamonds is more difficult. Once you know the basic facts, the decision comes down to personal values. Diamonds are either mined by Artisan Small Scale Miners (ASM) —perhaps moving a ton of gravel over a day, sorting through alluvial deposits; or highly mechanized Large Scale Mines (LSM) moving massive amounts of earth and rock with large equipment. Diamonds from poor ASM miners have fueled regional conflicts in Africa, resulting in ― blood diamonds,‖ which are also known as ―conflict diamonds.

The Kimberley Process, set up as a sector response to the black market diamond trade that fueled regional conflicts, attempts to regulate the entire diamond sector. Though there is an international body, what takes place within a country around enforcement varies tremendously. Kimberley is primarily self-regulated. Some diamond producing countries, such as Venezuela, operate outside of Kimberley.

Every jewelry company in the world will claim to be Kimberley Process Compliant, selling only ―conflict free‖ diamonds. The World Diamond Council recently stated that less than one percent of diamonds are ―conflict diamonds‖, funding wars on the Ivory Coast and now, possibly, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To say that only one percent of diamonds were being mined and sold outside of the Kimberley Process, however, would be inaccurate.

Because diamonds are easily transported and valuable, poor miners bypass regulated diamond dealers to get a better price for their rough stones. Once a diamond arrives in a polisher‘s hand, it will be cut and sold.

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Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images, a designer jewelry company, that sells eco-friendly, conflict free diamond jewelry and unique wedding rings online at Choyt also publishes, the most respected consumer and trade resource website on ethical sourcing and fair trade jewelry issues.