WHAT ARE BLOOD DIAMONDS
To fully grasp why the deceptive practice of passing Blood Diamonds as conflict-free diamonds is so destructive, it is imperative to understand how they got their infamous moniker in the first place. Blood Diamonds are not named after the colour red, which they are not, but for its mining paid in blood spilt by enslaved villagers, many of them adolescents and children, in war-torn countries like Congo or Sierra Leone. These loosely held paramilitaries run by African warlords seize villagers and force them at gunpoint to mine, primarily by bare hands, in search of diamonds. As these slaves eventually collapse by exhaustion or debilitating injury, they are often killed and disposed of to be replaced by newly captured slaves. In addition, as though slavery wasn't bad enough, rich habitats, like forests and riverbanks vital for the survival of many rare species, are systemically destroyed to make the land suitable for mining.
Selling these mined diamonds, often very cheaply because of free slave labour, allows these paramilitaries to unlock funds to purchase military armaments to continue their terrorism, including rape, murder, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, in order to maintain their grip on power. You might be asking who support the proliferation of these conflict diamonds? Unsurprisingly, it's everyone from the established giants of the diamond industry all the way down to small diamond cutters and miners. Indeed, are these big and smaller companies unaware of the Blood Diamonds' human cost and suffering? Of course not. These companies are primarily motivated by profit and little else. To keep their incredibly lucrative money-making scheme running, they have consistently stifled the industry and hindered every attempt to reform until recently. They have always happily bought Blood Diamonds to exploit the artificially low price and easy supply while wilfully ignoring the human cost. But please don't take our word for it; there are plenty of well-researched articles published in prestigious publications exposing everything about the mined diamond industry listed here and much more.
It is understandable to assume that with the growing awareness of the public and their demand for more sustainable and environmentally friendly products, the mining of Blood Diamonds has, if not eliminated, at least been suppressed. However, the truth is not so convenient; Blood Diamonds are not, as of yet, a relic of the distant past. Like many others forced with pressure to change, the Blood Diamond industry simply adapted to be out of public sight. After all, did the African warlords disappear?
THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH
A new breed of diamonds called 'Conflict-Free Diamonds' are being heavily promoted by many established companies and newly minted non-profit certification boards to cover up the ugly truth of the mined diamond industry. However, it is nothing more than a marketing stunt to convince empathetic customers to buy mined diamonds without reservations. Despite their claims that all their diamonds are audited to only come from registered mines, all industry insiders know that it is a lie and a marketing scam. Suppose a company or a distributor is able to buy in bulk ridiculously cheap diamonds from conflict regions. In that case, it is in their best interest to never admit to their customers that they are selling Blood Diamonds. Instead, they will do everything in their power to sell them as 'Conflict-Free' with hefty premiums. Diamonds are essentially a collection of a single element- a strong crystal composed of only carbons and therefore untraceable. You can't run tests on pure gold, iron, or any other elements to uncover their origin. Likewise, a diamond mined in Russia is identical to one unearthed in Sierra Leone by a slave threatened with the death of his family if he doesn't fulfil his quota for the day.
The method by which Blood Diamonds slips into the supply diamond supply chain is a fascinating case of a quirk exploited as a loophole. Currently, an excess of 90% of the world's mined diamonds are polished in India. How one country came to dominate this part of the process is an interesting tale on its own. A few decades ago, most diamonds were being polished in Belgium, Israel and India. However, it all shifted to India over time due to cheap labour, enabling Blood Diamonds, which are indistinguishable from any other diamond, to mix in with all the other ones from around the world.