When you shop for diamonds you will see a vast selection at many jewelers. In fact, there are so many fabulous stones in which to choose, you may wonder where all these great diamonds are coming from. Most come from a legitimate source but not all. In fact, some have a dark story behind them and it is important to know this story before you shop loose diamonds or diamond engagement rings.
Blood or conflict diamonds are mined in parts of the world that are experiencing civil war with factions trying to overthrow governments. Precious stones are mined and sold and the proceeds are used to purchase weapons of war. Most conflict diamonds are coming from Africa. In fact, seven countries on the continent have been involved in civil war as of late. Even though the stones are not sold legally, not long ago they represented about four percent of all the diamonds sold in the world.
Four percent does not seem like a large percentage but it is much more than most people realize. In fact, a group of rebels in Angola received more than three and one half billion dollars in illegal sales of diamonds. These militant groups get most or all of their funding from diamond sales and that is why it is so important that blood stones be boycotted.
“Conflict stones” is just a term but it means much more to many people in Africa. Thousands of innocent victims of civil war suffer because of the illegal diamond trade. In fact, many people have been enslaved by military groups and forced to work at mines under the most harshest and brutal of conditions. Men, women, and children, have no modern mining tools and many must dig with their hands into river bank mud and rock, and the rebels care nothing for the well-being of their slave labor force. They see them as a disposable asset.
In May of 2000, states in Africa that produce diamonds got together to do something about the horrible injustices surrounding illegal sales of diamonds. They were intent on putting a stop to this process once and for all.
In December of 2000, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to create an international scheme for certifying diamonds in the rough. After two years of negotiations between the international diamond industry, civil society groups, and governments, the Kimberly Process was created. It has strict requirements for certifying the origin of rough diamonds shipped from Africa.
Every diamond shipment must contain information on the origin of the stones, exactly where they were taken from and who cut them. All parties involved must be listed and the eventual destination of the shipment also. Countries that have joined the Kimberly Process will not be allowed to do business with countries that are non members.
Doing your part
When you shop for diamonds, check to see if the jeweler offers only conflict free stones. The best jewelers maintain a zero tolerance policy on blood stones and you can be assured that you are getting quality stones from legitimate sources.