Blood diamonds are synonymous with conflict diamonds. The term is designed to dramatically emphasize that behind the glamorous image of diamonds lies a web of corruption, influence peddling and brutality in some parts of the diamond-producing world.
Consumers began clamoring for assurances that the diamonds they desired were not being used to finance conflicts. To that end an alliance of government, civil and industry groups created the “Kimberley Process” to clean up the trade in rough diamonds.
First, in 1998 the United Nations (UN) initiated action that culminated with the establishment of the “Kimberley Process.” However, the UN’s definition of the term blood diamond or conflict diamond is very narrow and was designed to get everyone on board. The definition reads as follows:
“A blood diamond (conflict diamond) refers to a diamond mined in a war zone and sold in order to finance an insurgency, invading army’s war efforts, or supporting a warlord’s activity.”
Next, in July 2000, the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp passed a resolution blocking the sale of blood diamonds. The resolution installed an international certification system on the export and import of diamonds. Countries could only accept sealed packages of diamonds with an official seal, and criminal charges would be levied against anyone and everyone trafficking in blood diamonds.
Six months later, in January 2001, the top elements of the diamond industry formed a new organization—the World Diamond Council. They drafted a process whereby all know diamond rough could be “certified” as coming from a non-conflict zone. Thus, the “Kimberley Process” was created and approved by the UN in March 2002. The United States followed with the Clean Diamond Act in April 2003, and the “Kimberley Process” became law in the United States.
According to the “Kimberley Process” website, there are now 46 members blessed by the Kimberley experts. Only the Ivory Coast (Africa) has rebel forces that control diamond production, but less than 0.2% of the industry.
Our narrative could end here, but I have a much broader definition for a blood diamond. Here is my definition:
- Any diamond that was mined using oppressed labor in unsanitary working conditions.
- Any diamond whose oppressed labor force was victimized in the form of rape, mutilations (loss of arms or legs), beatings, verbal abuse, unconscionable working hours, and below poverty wage structure.
- Any diamond that the company who mined it or controls its tariffs is part of a monopoly.
- Any diamond that funds wars or corporate greed where profits supersede human life.
- Any diamond that is used to oppress any human life or the extinction of any race, tribe or sub-culture.
- Any diamond that is purposely graded incorrectly and marketed for corporate profits instead of consumer satisfaction.
- Any diamond that is sold at a price above its secondary market resale value forcing the consumer to take a significant loss if it was to be resold.
So, what percentage of diamonds sold in the world today are blood diamonds? Well, maybe the question should be what percentage of diamonds are NOT blood diamonds.
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®