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Conflict-free diamonds have become a common sight in the diamond catalogs of reputable vendors in the past two decades but their exact definition can still be confusing.
What exactly are conflict-free diamonds?
In short, “conflict-free” diamonds are diamonds that have been certified by the Kimberley Process because they aren’t connected to a rebel or terrorist group or a military conflict. With conflict-free diamonds, you can rest assured that you’re not supporting a military conflict.
What is the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) began in the early 2000s after the war of Sierra Leone in an effort to stop the mining and trading of conflict diamonds. Such diamonds are also known as blood diamonds, due to their association with war, conflict and human rights violations.
Established together with the UN and multiple other countries, the KPCS’s goal is to develop requirements and regulations to ensure that no “blood” diamonds are traded and sold, thus starving the conflict diamond trade.
The efforts of the Kimberley Process have gone a long way in achieving that goal and today, especially in all First World countries, conflict “blood” diamonds are nearly impossible to find in diamond and jewelry vendors. That’s not always the case in third-world countries and therefore, there is still more work for the KPCS to do. Having said that, the effect of the Kimberley Process on the worldwide diamond trade is undeniable.
Conflict-free vs. ethically-sourced diamonds
While the “conflict-free” label has become a fixed feature on all diamonds sold in the U.S. and other First World countries, “ethical” or “ethically-sourced” are not labels every diamond carries. These are diamonds that are mined from countries and companies that treat their workers and miners well, pay them competitive salaries, and offer work benefits adequate for an intensive manual labor position. This is why it’s important to go beyond conflict free when purchasing your diamond. Look for diamonds that have been sourced via ethical conditions.
How can you know where your diamond was mined?
In most cases, it can be very difficult to tell what the point of origin of a diamond is because there are too many transitional steps from the mining of the diamond, to its cutting and polishing processes, to multiple different vendors and finally to the end retailer and the client. The more transactions a diamond passes, the more difficult it becomes to track it. Certifications such as the KPCS can help but even the source of a certified conflict-free diamond can often be difficult to locate. For diamonds mined in First World countries such as Canada or Australia this can be easier since their path from the main to the shop is usually shorter.
Are the “conflict-free” and “ethically-sourced” labels a marketing scheme?
While they do affect the price of the stone both terms and the certifications behind them were established for almost purely ethical reasons as consumers became aware of the blood spilled over their diamonds and voiced their disagreement. If you want a conflict-free and ethically-sourced stone but you don’t want to overspend, one option to consider is lab-grown diamonds. The other option is to purchase from a trustworthy retailer with a commitment to providing ethically-sourced diamonds.