Diamonds have been entrancing and mesmerising people since the dawn of time – there are few items of jewellery that can compete with diamonds in terms of sheer gravitas and appeal.
As old songs tell us, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” and diamonds are also the jewel of choice for wealthy celebrities who have “made it” and want to flaunt their riches – ranging from musicians to actors and sports stars.
But while diamonds might shine bright, in and of themselves, there can be a dark side to them as well – and to various other forms of jewellery, too.
The phenomenon of “conflict” or “blood” diamonds is well known and casts a shadow over this otherwise magnificent jewel, and the industry it supports.
To put it simply, “conflict diamonds” are diamonds which are harvested and sold in contravention to regulations and overseeing bodies, generally by rogue or criminal elements (such as brutal warlords or organised criminal interests). The proceeds from those diamonds are then used to fund further hostile activity against the civilian population and the state, alike.
Here are just a few tips for ensuring that all of your jewellery – diamonds included – is ethically sourced, and conflict-free.
Doing research come a long way
Just like purchasing any item in your home, doing some kind of research pays off if you want to own a piece of certified ethical jewellery. What do you need to find out:
- Does the jeweller have a history of managing ethically products materials?
- Do they have positive reviews online from real clients that support their claims of ethical goods?
- Do they fund and support projects in the communities where they get their diamonds?
- Do they give assistance to initiatives, organisations, and projects that champion the fair production of diamonds?
- Does the jeweller promote that their products are sourced and made ethically?
If you are still uncertain on the credibility of a certain brand, the Responsible Jewellery Council can offer you some assistance. The organisation monitors suppliers to ensure that they comply with the business standards when it comes to the production of ethical diamonds and jewellery.
Understand what regulations apply, and how those regulations work
Diamonds are regulated internationally via the “Kimberley Process” (KP); a system that unites legislators, governments, and industry leaders in order to ensure that diamonds are being handled ethically, and without harm being done to third party groups. As explained in this guide , the KP claims to have reduced the production of conflict diamonds across the world by 99.8%.
The KP operates globally and, as of this writing, India chairs the KP, while Russia serves as vice chair. The chair and vice chair of the KP are responsible for the application of what is known as “The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme,” also known as the KPCS. Before you make any diamond purchase, ensure that the diamond in question has been produced and certified in line with the KPCS.
Buy your jewellery through reputable retailers
Jewellery is, as a rule, quite expensive. That is, of course, part of what lends it an aura of allure and mystique.
One unfortunate consequence of the price of jewellery, however, is that it can always be tempting to purchase it from small, unknown retailers, in order to make some savings. As a general rule, however, smaller retailers are far more likely to be in violation of ethical trading standards, and can easily slip under the radar and avoid regulation.
In contrast, major, globally renowned retailers will be watched with a much higher degree of scrutiny and will face severe punitive actions if they fail to abide by the rules.
In general, sourcing your jewellery from big-name retailers is therefore likely to be the best course of action, when it comes to ethical shopping. It is still worth supporting smaller, independent retailers where possible, however, as long as they have the necessary certification in place.
Avoid purchasing from noted areas of conflict
There are certain parts of the world where conflicts and war have played a major role in the production and selling of ethical pieces of jewellery, particularly the diamonds.
Whilst there are rules and schemes which have seen a fair and ethical production of diamonds, it’s best to steer clear from any jewelleries produced from these countries:
- DR Congo
- Ivory Coast
Contrary, if you are in search of reputable countries that are known for producing ethical gems, you can consider Canada, Australia, Namibia, and Sierra Leone.
Saving the planet, saving nations
At the moment, there has been a notable action taken in the jewellery industry to sanction and fully stop the production of unethical diamonds. These have open ways for those working in the mines to have a more fair and equal treatment.
Alongside the larger, well-known initiatives, there are also smaller schemes that were primarily created to help workers in receiving fair payments. They focus on artisinal mining, which is a harder area to monitor due to to its relatively small jurisdiction placed on it.
Demand for gems, particularly diamonds, continue to grow. But, the world has drastically changed to what it was ten years ago. As growth in awareness of sustainability and sensitivity to other nations’ conflict continue, the added impetus placed in making gems and jewellery ethically has had an impact on the overall focus of the diamond industry.
Regardless of where the future is headed, we can be certain that ethical products, such as jewellery and gems, will continue to have a huge impact on the world.