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What are Blood Diamonds and Why Should You Care

Do you know the term blood diamonds? By now, everyone should have heard of the term even if they do not know the true meaning behind it. We are accustomed to associating diamonds with beauty, elegance, love. But, depending on where they come from, diamonds can have a dark past, one made in bloodshed and lost lives. These are what they call ‘blood diamonds’.

The term was popularized by the 2006 film Blood Diamond.1 And members in the diamond industry agree that the film Blood Diamond is an accurate portrayal of the industry prior to the formation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Blood Diamonds: A Narrow Definition

Blood diamond is another term for conflict diamond. According to the United Nations (UN), conflict diamonds are:

“diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council”.

This means that rough diamonds are sold to benefit rebel groups who work to undermine and overthrow legitimate governments, especially in Africa. Because of this, the origin of a diamond has become an important issue in diamond buying. Efforts have been made to establish a certification scheme for diamond origin and legitimizing the trade.

The Kimberley Process: The World Attempts Regulation

Because of the death and displacement of millions of people due to conflicts surrounding diamond mining, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was formed in 2000 to prevent the sale of diamonds within the global market that finance rebel conflict.2 The aim was to cut off funding sources for rebels by blacklisting their diamonds. And as part of the system, entire countries have been barred at one point or another from selling diamonds on the international market.

Locally, our President of the United States signed the Clean Diamond Trade Act (CDTA)3 in 2003. This requires all diamonds imported into or exported from the USA to have a Kimberley Process Certificate. The Act was an attempt to limit trade in diamonds that fuel conflicts in their countries or origin.4

Failures of the Kimberley Process

The definition of blood diamonds by the Kimberley Process limits blood diamonds to only diamonds used to fund rebel/civil wars. This definition does not take into account the many conflicts associated with illegal and unregulated diamond mining. This include acts of violence meted out to diamond miners such as mutilation and rape. It also doesn’t consider child labor issues, and slave-like and hazardous working conditions. Nor does it account for environmental devastation and ecosystem destruction. These issues are all conflicts associated with the diamond trade and can lead to death.

Apart from the narrow definition of blood diamonds, corruption by government and army officials are also contributing to blood diamonds making it onto the international diamond market. Diamonds cross borders on the African continent and are sold through countries that are adhering to the terms of the Kimberley Process.

A lot has been done to improve the industry, especially in countries of the African Continent and South America where blood diamond issues have been prevalent. Unfortunately, too many problems persist and the people who are left in poverty and ravaged by the industry are the most vulnerable in these societies.

Do you know where your diamonds come from?

Because of the failures of the Kimberley Process, it becomes increasingly difficult for consumers to accurately track where their diamonds are sourced. Blood diamonds are making their way into the legitimate market.

Because we truly understand the consequences of blood diamonds, Bashford Jewelry only uses Canadian-mined diamonds in its fine jewelry. Canadian diamonds originate from the Diavik and Ekati mines.5 These two mines meet rigorous environmental standards and are held strictly accountable to independent environmental monitoring agencies. You can rest assured that there is no blood in our diamonds.

How to Choose Conflict-Free Diamonds

The question you need to ask when purchasing is, did someone die for you to get that diamond. You can make a difference. Send a strong message to those jewelers who continue to partake in and profit from blood diamonds. Ask questions of your jeweler. Request origin reports and detailed information on the source of their diamonds. Push your jeweler to do more than just lip-service to the needs of ending the trade in conflict diamonds. Find jewelers that do make a difference and who purchase their diamonds from truly conflict-free sources.

Choose wisely when next you purchase your diamond jewelry. Choose conflict-free diamonds.


1. Wikipedia. Blood Diamond (Film). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Diamond

2.Kimberley Process. https://www.kimberleyprocess.com/

3. U.S. Department of State. Executive Order Implementing the Clean Diamond Trade Act. http://www.state.gov/e/eb/diamonds/lnks/77440.htm

4. For more information on the Clean Diamond Trade Act in the USA, visit https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Aug/Kimberley%20Process%20Clean%20Diamond%20Trade%20Act%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

5. Dominion Diamond Corporation. Operations. http://www.ddcorp.ca/operations

Photographed by @ryanflynnphoto