What is an ethical diamond?
From sneakers to t-shirts, consumers are often kept in the dark about how products are produced. Up until the 90s, the masses in the west had no idea their trainers and clothing were being manufactured in sweatshops in countries like India and Thailand. But just like making a trainer, diamonds are often produced through exploiting poor people.
Raw diamonds, which were formed deep in the Earth billions of years ago from intense heat and pressure, are either found within the Earth’s crust (extracted via pipe mining) or in the ocean or river beds - found via alluvial mining (sifting through bed deposits by hand).
In African countries like Sierra Leone, labourers are paid less than a dollar a day to perform this back-breaking task. Some are children, who end up spending their lives in search for diamonds and never go to school.
An ethical diamond is a diamond that has been sourced without such suffering and exploitation.
What is a blood diamond?
The term blood or conflict diamond emerged in the 1990s as civil wars raged in parts of Africa (Angola, the Congo and Sierra Leone). The diamonds were being mined in the troubled countries and sold by rebels to buy weapons, ammunition and other materials for war. The diamonds then somehow merge into the mainstream, becoming part of legally mined diamonds and sold on the open market. Leaving consumers unaware that the diamond in their engagement ring may have been used to fund a war.
Who suffers from the sale of blood diamonds?
Not only do the innocent civilians caught up in the civil wars of their lands suffer, but thousands of people, including children, are used as slaves to mine the diamonds that are used to buy weapons and ammunition.
Who sells ethical or a conflict-free diamonds?
Here’s where it gets tricky. It’s hard to know your diamond is ethical and conflict-free, but you can try these simple steps in your journey to owning the precious gemstone.
Firstly, simply ask your jeweller where the diamond came from. A jeweller who cares about where they source their stones will know. And buy diamonds from countries like Australia and Canada, avoiding countries like Zimbabwe and Angola. According to Time , South African diamond manufacturing giant De Beers produces diamonds that come with a guarantee that each one was mined responsibly. You can also buy a diamond that comes with a Kimberley Certificate.
What is a Kimberley Certificate?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is an international certification system. It was established in 2003 in Kimberley, South Africa, to prevent blood diamonds from entering the commercial market. The process was set up by the UN "to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments." But some groups have claimed the process is flawed.
If all else fails, just go to a jeweller who guarantees their products are ethical. Like these:
Ethical Jewellery Australia
The company states that every piece of jewellery they make is used from materials that are ethically sourced and socially responsible.
The jeweller states it “does not sell or deal with any supplier who deals in or sells conflict diamonds. We take this issue very seriously and only work with suppliers who can confirm that their diamonds are conflict free."
Australian Diamond Brokers
Australian Diamond Brokers “only supply conflict free diamonds,” the company states on its website. “Our ordering and trading process ensure that you are buying guaranteed conflict free diamonds. Australian Diamond Brokers will continue to support and sell only conflict free diamonds.”
Better still, take a leaf out of Prince Harry’s book - use a diamond you have inherited from a loved one to create your masterpiece. Meghan Markle’s engagement ring included two stones from Princess Diana's personal collection.