Blood Diamonds

I recently came across the subject of blood diamonds when I was assigned a research paper inspired by a chapter in our textbook. I came across an advertisement much like the one above spurring blood diamond awareness. I found this little known dilemma intriguing and feel everyone should be aware of the blood diamond conflict.

The phrase “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” has become a popular motto for women everywhere who covet and desire Tiffany engagement rings and Cartier tennis bracelets. It is the gift every girl wishes to receive from their man, signifying their undying love and affection. But at what cost? The diamonds that have become renowned and adored in American society have fueled armed conflict and war on the African continent. Many never take the time to ponder where these “precious” jewels truly come from. Has American society disregarded the welfare of others in order to maintain a profitable business? The glitz and dazzle of diamonds has distracted society from the underlying fact that diamonds may not be that innocent.

Before diamonds ever hit the glass windows of trademark jewelers they are mined from large dirt pits located in Africa, mined by miners and passed along to international corporations, politicians, and rebel groups. Blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, originate from certain locations which are under the command of special forces. These forces are against legitimate government, using the diamonds to support their military agendas. Organized crime, corrupt regimes and international terrorists organizations have found a way to sink their teeth in the diamond industry, helping to fund and encourage genocide, war, slavery and terrorism. Blood diamonds are usually produced by men, women and children who are forced into labor in a poor working environment. These diamonds are smuggled into the international diamond trade where they are brought and sold as authentic jewels. These diamonds serve as a main money resource for rebel forces that operate in terms of bribes, threats, torture and murder. Warlords are notorious for successfully utilizing diamonds as a valuable and portable asset used to fund civil wars.

Many consumers in the present day are ignorant when it comes to where their diamonds have come from and their legitimacy. According to a 2004 Amnesty International survey, it was reported that 83% of jewelers in the U.S. stated that their customers “rarely or never” questioned the source or validity of the diamonds themselves. Another study conducted more recently in 2007 found that 56% of jewelers lacked an auditing procedure set to prevent conflict diamonds from ever hitting the retail marketplace. Despite the Kimberly Process, a mandate requiring each nation involved in the diamond industry to certify that their exported diamonds were produced legitimately, diamonds from Zimbabwe are continually being certified despite the suffering of the populace. Diamonds that have given precedence to murder, forced labor, rape and political oppression, are still on the market in the disguise of “conflict-free” diamonds.

This is not to say that diamonds are evil and everyone should avoid them. However, society needs to take a step back and analyze the current predicament it may be causing. It needs to thoroughly investigate the source of its diamond consumption so society as a whole can send the message that forced labor will not be tolerated. It is an atrocity for children, women, and men to be coerced into labor through diabolical means such as rape and torture. So please. If you are thinking about purchasing diamonds or you have purchased them in the past, I suggest each customer should request proof of documentation stating that the diamonds which they have purchased were by no means involved with the atrocities at the hand of rebel militaristic groups. The diamonds you purchase today, could cost somebody’s life tomorrow. Don’t be selfish.

P.S. I also encourage those who have not viewed the movie Blood Diamond to watch it. It has Leonardo DiCaprio in it as a lead role as well for all you Leo fans out there.