Traceability is key
It's probably safe to assume that most people wouldn't knowingly choose to buy a conflict diamond (aka a blood diamond). And yet, with all the myths and misinformation in circulation, many clients we hear from are initially uncertain about how to avoid this.
The headline is that this issue is all about traceability. If you don't have positive confirmation of a diamond's ultimate source of origin, then you can't be sure that it's a legitimate stone. Put another way; you need to know which mine it came from. If you are arriving at this issue fresh, this might sound painfully obvious: if you don't know where a diamond is from, then any claims about its ethical provenance can't count for much. And yet the way the diamond industry has traditionally been structured means that transparency in the supply chain is extremely rare.
The diamond supply chain
What typically happens is that a wholesaler will buy diamonds from multiple sources (some more ethical than others). They will then be repackaged (perhaps by size, rarely by origin) and sold on. They will be cut and polished beyond recognition and sold on again. Eventually, they will pass down the supply chain to you, the end consumer - when you ask the retailer where they are from, it's extremely unlikely they will be able to tell you which country, let alone which mine. They aren't able to provide you with the information you need.
Instead, they will most likely attempt to satisfy you with assurances about 'reputable suppliers', the promise that their diamonds were sourced 'in accordance with the Kimberley Process', and the line that conflict diamonds aren't a problem anymore. These promises unravel under scrutiny but, unfortunately, are enough to stop many consumers from pressing the issue.
As an antidote to this misinformation, consumers should be aware of a few key facts.
- Conflict diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo still find their way onto the market - https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/conflict-diamonds/
- The Kimberley Process doesn't work, and the people who set it up no longer want to be associated with it - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/exclusive-the-return-of-blood-diamonds-1718027.html
- The Kimberley Process is now little more than a smokescreen, a useful piece of PR for the diamond industry - http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/diamonds-blood-kimberley-process-mines-ethical
Sometimes jewellers will claim that it's impossible to offer transparency in the supply chain, but this isn't true - several diamond brands now offer laser-inscribed stones that can be traced back to source. So if you're determined not to buy a blood diamond, ask where the stone originally comes from and refuse to be fobbed off with anything less than a clear answer. It is as simple as that.