What Are Conflict Diamonds?

Written by: Sue Fritz | | Jewelry

What are conflict diamonds?

Movies like Blood Diamond (2006) have raised the public consciousness about conflict diamonds. Eco-savvy and globally minded brides and grooms may be concerned about buying an engagement ring that features conflict diamonds. After all, you are choosing a symbol of your everlasting love for one another; no one should be hurt in the process! Lavalier answers your most pressing questions about conflict diamonds, so you can put your mind at ease.

What is a conflict diamond?

Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, war diamonds, or converted diamonds, are defined by the United Nations as “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…” Essentially, these diamonds are mined and sold in war-torn areas, with the profits used to fund violent rebellions.

Where do conflict diamonds come from?

The vast majority of conflict diamonds come from countries in southern and western Africa. The first reports of conflict diamonds were published in 1998 by Global Witness, and revealed the role that diamonds played in funding the rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in their war against the government. Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone are the most widely mentioned countries of origin for conflict diamonds, although other African countries including Cȏte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, and Liberia have also been involved in the practice.

What’s being done about it?

In 2003, the UN established the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to prevent the proliferation and sale of conflict diamonds. The diamond industry is very serious about self-policing at all levels of the supply chain. All major rough diamond producers, exporters, and importers are now members of the KPCS, and any diamond dealer who is found to be non-compliant is often blacklisted. Their reputation is severely damaged, and dealers and jewelers will be very hesitant to do business with them. Despite criticism, the Kimberley Process has been quite successful in increasing sales of legal diamonds and discouraging the trade of conflict diamonds.

How many conflict diamonds are out there?

Once a diamond is cut, it is very difficult to tell where it came from. However, the number of conflict diamonds in circulation has drastically decreased over the past twenty years. At the peak of the Sierra Leone conflict, it is estimated that conflict diamonds accounted for between 4% and 15% of the global diamond trade. Currently, the World Diamond Council claims that less than 1% of diamonds are conflict diamonds.

How can I make sure my diamond isn’t a conflict diamond?

Some retailers, like Brilliant Earth, specialize in conflict-free diamonds. If a jeweler is compliant with the Kimberley Process, he or she should be able to show you a diamond’s System of Warranties statement. You don’t have to avoid all diamonds from Africa; in fact, many of these countries rely on the legal diamond trade to finance schools, infrastructure, and growth. When diamond shopping, ask the store owner about the process it uses to guarantee its diamonds are conflict-free. He or she should be able to confidently discuss the origins of the diamonds and gemstones sold at the store.

Once you’ve purchased your conflict-free diamond, make sure it’s protected from damage, loss, theft, and other mishaps by purchasing diamond insurance from Lavalier. Diamond insurance gives you the peace of mind to know that in almost every situation, your conflict-free diamond will be protected.  And if you do have to file a claim, Lavalier will make sure that any replacement diamonds are from your original conflict-free jeweler.

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