Do you know where the diamond you bought came from? Yes, the gift of a diamond is supposed to symbolize eternal love. It is, however, often mired in blood, death, and destruction. This taints the love, beauty and purity that a diamond is supposed to represent.
Because we know the history and the issues of blood diamonds, we only recommend that you purchase diamonds from sources that are legitimately pure.
Here are eight reasons why you should know and care where your diamonds came from.
1. Environmental Pollutants
Diamonds are most often accents to gold fine jewelry. Unfortunately, the extraction process for acquiring gold can severely affect the environment. Humans, wildlife and natural resources are adversely affected by the mercury and cyanide used in mining and extracting gold.
Mercury poisoning then leads to adverse health issues as well as polluting water sources including rivers. Though humans and plants produce cyanide in small amounts, it is extremely toxic to humans and wildlife at high levels. Cyanide and mercury poisoning have led to loss of life especially to the people who work in or live near these gold mines.
2. Ecosystem Destruction
Responsible diamond mining protects the environment and pays close attention to preventing ecosystem devastation. When undertaken properly, the land can be reclaimed for farming or other use and the natural ecosystem can be restored over the years. Unfortunately, too many diamond mines are irresponsibly created which damage the environment without any hope for recovery. Additionally, abandoned mines are often left to accumulate mosquito infested waters which inevitably leads to malaria outbreaks in African communities.
3. Hazardous Working Environment
We are preoccupied with occupational health and safety in our various places of employment. But diamond miners? They are continuously faced with dangerous working conditions that can lead to loss of life. Improper mining leads to tunnel collapses and underground fires that kill thousands of miners. Safety measures in certain mines are non-existent.
4. Civil Unrest
Civil unrest and outright civil wars are frequently a consequence of illegally operated mines. The profits from these mines are used to fund civil unrest and armies who try to undermine legitimate governments. There are also wars over ownership rights to the mines because whoever controls the mines, controls the profits. This leads to the displacement of millions who have been forced to flee war-torn communities and countries as well the death of millions of innocent people. There are many heartbreaking stories of death and destruction in several African countries because of civil wars over or funded by ‘blood diamonds’.
Diamond mining in certain countries of the African continent is often characterized as modern day slavery. Men, women and children are generally brutalized and mutilated. Violence is frequently meted out to gain and maintain control of diamond mines as well as to keep miners in check. Torture and rape are tools to subjugate the people and force adults and children to work in the mines. Children are abducted to serve in rebel armies that are formed to control mines or fight legitimate governments.
6. Child Labor
Children are the preferred labor force in unregulated diamond mines. Their small stature allows them to easily climb into small mineshafts where adults cannot reach. They are also cheaper to employ than adults. They work long hours and weeks. This means they have to forego an education and will never rise out of poverty. As adults, if they make it to adulthood, they continue working in the mines because they are not qualified for anything else. This is a disheartening way to live a life. One without hope.
Diamond mining is a brutal industry which is hard to regulate. And all too often officials turn a blind eye to what is happening. Those tasked with protecting life and property are the ones meting out inhumane punishments to diamond workers. Government and military officials are known to have demanded bribes and ignore the atrocities that their fellow countrymen face. The corrupt practices of government officials disrupt international attempts at regulating the diamond trade and preventing blood diamonds from making it to the general market.
The diamond business is a billion-dollar industry. Why is it then that so many people in diamond mining areas continue to live in abject poverty? There are sometimes people who dig for diamonds on their own. They are forced to sell to middlemen who pay a minuscule amount for the diamonds. Workers in the ‘legitimate’ diamond mines are cheaply paid. The profits from mining are held by the rebels, corrupt governments and middle-men. The profits aren’t pumped back into communities that desperately need resources. Neither does it make its way into the hands of those who need it the most.
Know Where Your Diamonds Come From
If issues of fair pay, environmental protection, and life and liberty are important to you then you need to know where your diamonds are coming from. Ask your jeweler to give proof of origin. If they cannot show explicitly the source of their diamonds, then move on. You don’t need tainted diamonds when there are options for diamonds without such dark pasts.
Contact Bashford Jewelry if you would like to learn more about the issues plaguing the diamond industry, how you can make a difference, and how you can get untainted diamonds.
Image by Global Witness.