The recent news that Zimbabwe will once again be included within the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is hugely disappointing. The Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe contain the most significant find of diamonds the world has seen for many years, but since 2009 these diamonds have been refused Kimberley Process (KP) accreditation as a result of human rights abuses and alleged non-compliance with the KP certification requirements.
This year the BBC’s Panorama programme reported that by late 2008 mining in the Marange area was being carried out by soldiers, using local villagers for forced labour. The documentary amassed evidence of a systematic massacre in 2008 where it is thought that police and soldiers cleared the area of an unknown number of civilians illegally searching for diamonds.
It seems likely that the decision last month by the KP to allow the export of rough diamonds from two operations in the Marange region will allow stockpiles of diamonds accumulated in 2008 and 2009 to enter the market. The National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) and the British Jewellers’ Association (BJA) have said it will be “impossible” to prevent Marange blood diamonds from entering the UK if retailers continue to trade with China, the biggest importer of Marange diamonds.
At Ingle & Rhode, we believe that the KP is wrong to allow diamonds produced under such terrible conditions to enter the market, and that this decision seriously undermines the credibility of the KP Certification Scheme as a whole.
It also underlines the importance of consumers being able to know where their diamond has come from, which is why Ingle & Rhode sources diamonds from Canada. Not only are Canadian diamonds mined, cut and polished with due care for the environment and for human rights, but they can be traced back to their mine of origin, meaning that we can guarantee that they are conflict-free and ethically produced.