Diamonds are a popular choice for a number of jewellery pieces. From wedding rings to necklaces, bracelets, and more, jewellery purchases with diamonds are a popular gift. The discerning consumer knows the basics of buying a diamond. However, with more global concerns in place, there have been new interests in learning more about diamond origins.
The well known film Blood Diamond was a groundbreaking step for consumers who wanted to purchase diamonds. Becoming aware that their diamonds might contribute to conflict in the countries where they are mined, they’ve asked for greater transparency and ethical practices.
Similar to ethically sourced coffee and blue jeans, diamonds are becoming one of the latest items to undergo this scrutiny. Millennials are empowered purchasers and demanding that the diamonds they purchase come from ethical sources as well. This has led some to instead turn to laboratory-grown diamonds. The demand for this type of jewel has snowballed, and sales are expected to continue rising.
What exactly should drive your decision? There isn’t one right answer to this question. However, for anyone concerned about the ethical origins of their diamond purchases, these are some considerations to keep in mind.
Kimberley Process May Not Have Resolved Conflict
This process was established in the early 2000s to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream market. However, like any other process, it has not addressed all concerns. It unfortunately, has been implicated in ignoring abuses in human rights, worker exploitation, and environmental concerns. One significant flaw is that the process does not require diamonds to be traced back to their mine of origin, so it’s impossible to ensure that diamonds don’t contribute to harm.
The three ethical concerns around diamonds are the following: Violence, labor, and environment.
Many of the brutal conflicts around diamonds have ended, but the diamond mines’ violence remains a significant concern. Many diamond mines use forced labor, torture, and even murder as a standard practice. Since the Kimberley Process hasn’t prevented these practices, it’s impossible to know whether a purchased diamond came from an area where these practices were occurring.
Unlike the effective regulations that protect workers in the United States and EU, many of the diamonds worldwide are being harvested using practices that exploit workers, their children, and the community. For example, diamond diggers in Africa typically earn less than a dollar a day. This contributes to widespread poverty as well as daily suffering. Workers tend to have unsafe conditions and may be working daily without adequate training, equipment, or tools.
In addition to human concerns, the effects of mining on the environment cannot be overstated. Diamond mining has not been planned or regulated well, which has led to environmental problems for both land and water. From soil erosion to deforestation, communities of people have had to relocate to survive. In some cases, diamond mining may even cause a collapse of the entire ecosystem.
How To Purchase Diamonds Ethically
When it comes to purchasing a diamond ethically, most consumers are using one of two approaches. Some are turning to estate sales or family jewelry to re-use diamonds that have already been mined. The current demand for diamonds is higher than the supply, but people can bypass the system by using a family jewel. Their current diamonds may still have been contributing to the system but are not currently being mined. Additionally, a good jeweler can take an older diamond and put it in a new setting for a unique piece that appeals to most younger generations.
The second choice is to use lab grown diamonds. They do have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties but are often less popular. People still like the real thing, so they haven’t been as popular in engagement rings. However, even though synthetic diamonds’ sales remain relatively low, interest is growing over time as it is possible to know that these diamonds are not mined using unethical practices.
The Ethics of Diamond Mining: Things to consider when buying or selling diamondsThe bottom line is that while each person has to make their own choice, these considerations make it challenging to purchase a diamond while knowing that it comes from an ethical source. Anyone interested in purchasing a diamond may want to consider their options before making a purchase.