Saturday, October 8, 2011

Conflict-Free Diamonds

Choosing a diamond for an engagement or wedding ring is not based on shape or size alone, but is also about ensuring that rings are decorated with conflict-free stones. “Conflict diamonds”, or “blood diamonds”, are mined in a war-zone and the profits of the stones continue to finance civil wars. The United States has spent the last decade creating federal laws to keep conflict diamonds outside of the U.S., causing the number of conflict diamonds available for purchase to decrease significantly.

The majority of blood diamonds are mined in Africa, notably Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola. These three countries, as well as many others, are home to genocide and horrific civil wars that are partially financed by illegal diamond trading. Due to the significant exchange rate between the U.S. and these countries, a piece of jewelry purchased here could translate to a large number of military resources. Therefore, members of the United Nations have worked to keep conflict diamonds from being traded worldwide.

The United States has the largest consumer market for diamonds in the world, which is why it was important for the U.S. to take action against the importation of blood diamonds. Immediately before President Clinton passed Executive Order 13194 in 2001, which prohibited the import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, blood diamonds were said to account for upwards of 10% of diamonds sold worldwide[1]. In 2002, President Bush banned the entry of rough diamonds from Liberia with E.O. 13213, and followed that with the Clean Diamond Trade Act, which required rough diamonds to be certified as free from conflict[2]. These changes in federal law have caused the number of blood diamonds featured in worldwide trade to drop to less than 1%[3]. Clearly, the efforts made by the U.N. and U.S. government have helped contain the illegal sale of blood diamonds, and have cut-off a substantial amount of resources from warlords and coups involved in African civil wars.

Bottom Line: Thanks to federal laws, brides can rest easy knowing that their engagement and wedding rings were not mined at the expense of civil war victims. Due to the Clean Diamond Trade Act, diamonds sold within the U.S. are required to have a paper trail to ensure that international conflicts are not being funded by jewelry purchases. Hooray for being conscious of human rights when purchasing pretty things!

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