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Blood Diamonds
Jul 07, 2023
Industry Must Read
Blood Diamonds
Our previous discussions on our blog have focused on the fact that the very existence of Blood Diamonds has a negative effect on the planet and its inhabitants that cannot be ignored. However, we have yet to expose how well-known brands fool eco-conscious customers into purchasing `Conflict-Free Diamonds`, which are just Blood Diamonds in disguise. This practice of deceiving potential customers by whitewashing conflict diamonds is not only morally and ethically wrong but also damaging to the emerging sustainability movement. In addition, these underhanded dealings by the most prominent players erode customer confidence in the diamond industry and hamper the hard work of young companies like us, who are trying to modernise it to be more ethical and sustainable. There is no doubt that customers deserve to know whether the symbol of love bought with their hard-earned money contributes to the destruction of such a vast amount of vital land and the misery and death of so many innocent people.

 

WHAT ARE BLOOD DIAMONDS?

A brief description of what Blood Diamonds are and how frightening their impact on the world is necessary to comprehend what these companies are doing fully. Blood Diamonds are thus called not for the colour red but instead for the price paid in blood by miners, mainly enslaved victims of war, in conflict-torn countries like Congo or Sierra Leone. Loosely held paramilitaries led by brutal warlords capture villagers and force them at gunpoint to mine for diamonds until death by exhaustion. The money raised from the sale of mined diamonds to greedy companies gives the paramilitaries and warlords the ability to purchase the military equipment required to maintain their grip on power. This enables them to continue their campaign of terror, resulting in rape, murder, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, among others, to keep the civilian population in terror and thus subservient.

If you are wondering who benefits from the existence of conflict diamonds, you are not alone. Everyone involved in the diamond industry - from old giants like De Beers to small diamond cutters and miners - has a vested interest in ensuring that the cycle continues. Since slave labour has almost no operating costs for warlords and paramilitaries in conflict regions, they can sell the diamonds very cheaply. This source of reliable and cheap diamonds is far too lucrative for these companies and groups to give up, who are only motivated by greed and nothing else. In addition, to keep the racket going, they have fought every attempt to bring accountability and reform to the diamond industry till recently. In pursuit of artificially low prices and an accessible supply of Blood Diamonds, the mined diamond industry is complicit in the destruction of the environment and human rights in conflict regions in Africa.

Due to the growing awareness of consumers as well as the steady shift towards sustainability, it would seem that Blood Diamonds are on their way out. This is far from the truth; just like any industry facing relentless pressure, Blood Diamonds have fled the limelight and rebranded themselves to regain market share once again, this time as `conflict-free` mined diamonds.

Blood Diamonds

THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH

In line with the diamond companies` claims, all of the diamonds they sell are ethically mined and `Conflict-Free` Diamonds. Clearly, if this claim were true, the warlords and paramilitaries in Africa would have been starved of funds by now and have long since been disbanded. However, that is clearly not the case. In fact, the situation is even direr than before; the rate of illegal mining and exploitation of vulnerable people, including children, is rapidly accelerating. The label `Conflict-Free Diamonds` created and pushed so heavily by brands and certification agencies is simply a marketing stunt to cover up the unpleasant truth of the mined diamond industry. Essentially, it is the latest in a long line of efforts aimed at appealing to what is becoming an increasingly large segment of society that seeks out responsible purchases.

Could `Conflict-Free` Diamonds be the ultimate solution to Blood Diamonds? The answer is absolutely no; they are simply the same old `Blood Diamonds` just with better branding. It is worthwhile to examine their biggest differentiating factor, the claim of these brands that `Conflict-Free Diamonds` are audited in order to ensure responsible sourcing of diamonds and ethical treatment of workers and miners involved. Contrary to their claims, it is well known within the diamond industry insiders that all such audits certifying that `Conflict-Free Diamonds` only originate from registered mines are an outright lie. Suppose a diamond distributor is afforded the opportunity to acquire diamonds from conflict regions cheaply and consistently. In that case, they will all jump at the chance while hiding the fact that they are peddling Blood Diamonds to unsuspecting customers as `Conflict-Free` with hefty premiums. It is the interest of corporations to seek every opportunity to make a profit, and none of them are as dedicated to it as the mined diamond players.

 

There is no denying that blood diamonds enter the global supply chain on a regular basis and are not limited to a once-in-a-while occurrence. In reality, it results from highly orchestrated coordination between players in the diamond scene and corrupt government officials who are paid to look the other way. Currently, an excess of 90% of the world`s mined diamonds is funnelled through India for polishing. This bottlenecking of a necessary process is a deliberate and planned act.
Blood Diamonds get intentionally mixed in with the other mined diamonds in this one specific stage of the process since there is nothing to differentiate a Blood Diamond from any other diamond. A few decades ago, most diamonds were being polished in Belgium and Israel, with India being decidedly the last choice. However, over time it all shifted to India due to cheap labour. Other countries also have an abundance of cheap, so why India specifically? In essence, their corrupt system and the way it allows them to facilitate underhanded dealings make the diamond industry so lucrative. In particular, it is the way diamond suppliers, polishers, and finally, government inspectors are more than happy to overlook any shenanigans as long as they get their cut of the profit.

There are thousands of diamonds of varying quality contained within each packet of diamonds that enter India for processing. The parcels of diamonds are opened by polishing houses, and the contents are poured into a giant bowl. Now we have this huge pile of diamonds from multiple packets, all with different origins. Once every diamond is polished and sent to a grader, there is simply no possible way to guarantee a diamond`s origin since determining its origin is scientifically impossible. Diamonds are crystals made of only one element, carbon, rendering them impossible to trace. Like pieces of silver, iron, gold or any other element, no chemical or physical tests can uncover the diamond`s origin. Whether it`s a diamond dug up by a prisoner of war in Congo or one dug up by a mammoth machine in Russia, they are chemically identical.
Thus, any claim made by retailers that their mined diamonds are friendly to the environment is blatantly untrue. They will happily advertise various certifications from non-profits, but the simple fact is that all such certificates that claim a diamond`s origin from a `Conflict-Free` mine, for example, in Botswana, are simply presenting you a very well-packaged lie. The certified diamond could, just as easily, be from a conflict area in Congo, and no one can tell otherwise. Even if they state they have a strict `Chain of custody, it is simply not financially feasible to process diamonds individually, one at a time, with a certifier overlooking every step. It`s also worth mentioning that 90% of the world`s diamonds are processed in large batches - thousands at a time - in countries with little regulation or oversight.

There is a simple truth here that might sound harsh, but we need to remember that any companies or individuals who are involved in any way in the buying or selling of mined diamonds, even indirectly, are responsible not just for the continued existence of Blood Diamonds, but for the death and suffering of innocents, along with the destruction of nature that follows. Primates such as the eastern lowland gorilla and numerous other species face extinction because the forest critical to the survival of these endangered are cut down or burned down to make space for mining. Since the only truly conflict-free diamonds, without the slightest doubt, are produced in labs by skilled scientists, companies that sell `conflict-free` mined diamonds are not truly committed to ethics and sustainability.

Despite our best efforts, we did not manage to find any reliable and verified sources of ethically mined diamonds in our quest for ethically mined diamonds, eventually concluding that there are no mined diamonds that are truly clean. We could not in good conscious be at all involved with the mined diamonds industry and risk selling even one Blood Diamond to our customers. NOVITA Diamonds had no choice but to deal exclusively with lab grown diamonds as they are the only diamonds capable of giving power back into consumers` hands. This is something we hold dearly to our hearts because we feel that our customers deserve the right not to be unwilling contributors to an industry that thrives on corruption and disdain for the suffering of so many innocent people.

Blood Diamonds