What is a Blood Diamond?
The term “blood diamond” refers to diamonds that come from war zones in Africa, and sold (typically illegally) in order to fund insurgent war efforts against legitimate and internationally recognized governments. These rebel factions trade diamonds with illicit arms dealers to fund their military action in opposition to those governments. Millions of deaths are linked to the rebel wars and trafficking of these gems.
Labor exploitation has also been linked to blood diamonds. The scenes from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blood Diamond the movie isn’t too far from the truth where African miners are exposed to atrocious living conditions and even worse working conditions. They don’t have shoes, gloves, hard hats or flashlights, and their tools – picks, ropes – are simple and do nothing to relieve the back-breaking work. Mine shafts are unsecured and very dangerous. Accidents are frequent and many miners have been buried alive in these pits. At the end of a full workday, miners get paid less than a dollar. Finding a diamond may only get them $50.
The Kimberley Process and other efforts to stop it…
There has been much controversy and concern about the blood diamond market. The African diamond trade has been under a great deal of examination by other countries. Efforts to create a market that is conflict-free have led to The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme – a method designed to certify and track the diamonds to ensure they come from conflict-free zones. Further, the Diamond Development Initiative is trying to help reduce the blood diamond market by assisting with the living and working conditions in communities that have artisanal alluvial digging. It is also working with the African government to help build up these communities with better health care, education systems, better working conditions and better equipment for the actual digging and mining process. Legitimate diamond sellers and activists are fighting to change the system in Africa, which supplies about 65% of the world’s diamonds. Their goal is to make all diamonds conflict-free meaning they were not obtained through the use of violence, human rights abuse, child labor, or environmental destruction.
What can YOU do? As consumers, we have a lot of influence on this issue. When you and your honey are ready to start shopping around, don’t hesitate to inquire about a diamond’s origin and get some background on who has handled it. Info like that won’t just add to your peace of mind – it’ll help those legitimate diamond sellers crush their illegitimate competitors.