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Friday, February 5, 2010

How to Recognize a Non Conflict Diamond

Many people are absolutely devastated when they learn about conflict diamonds. They think about their engagement ring, their glittery jewelry, and all of the diamonds that they have admired over the years. The brilliance of these pieces is diminished greatly by their bloody history. Diamonds that come from countries in a state of insurrection or rebellion are often obtained by violent and inhumane means.

Tyrant groups take over mines and the villages nearby, forcing villagers into slavery and intimidating their families with murder, rape, and amputation. They sell these diamonds to industrial country and use the money to buy weapons and fund illicit activities. However, there are many places around the world and some parts of Africa that mine clean diamonds through peaceful means. A large part of the money helps support the economy and some reconstruction. It is possible to get a jewelry piece made from a non conflict diamond from most major diamond retailers, if you know what to ask for.

However, there is no way to know for sure if a diamond is non conflict. Once the rock has been cut and polished, it is impossible to tell where it was mined. Thus, for a diamond to be "non conflict" certified, its mining, cutting, polishing, and shipping must be extensively recorded, regulated, and double checked. The jeweler that you go to should have a license and official paperwork in order to prove that the diamond did not come from a conflict area.

There are four questions you should ask the salesperson whenever you buy diamond jewelry. The salesperson should be able to answer these questions, as blood diamonds are a huge issue in the diamond industry, so everyone involved is fairly familiar with them in the same way that they are familiar with diamond quality issues, such as GIA diamond appraisals. If the salesperson cannot or does not answer any of these questions, then you should politely take your business elsewhere.

The first question is, "How can I know for sure that these are non conflict diamonds?" A guarantee from the store is not enough, if a diamond is non conflict then it will have gone through the Kimberly Process, and the salesperson should have some nice papers for you, with embellishments and special textures to prevent forgeries as best as possible. There also might be a certificate or something along those lines that indicate that they only sell non conflict diamonds. Several Canadian diamond retailers or retailers that sell Canadian diamonds will have this.

The second question is, "Do you know where the diamonds you sell come from?" Many countries in South Africa, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo are known conflict areas, so diamonds from them are most likely to be blood diamonds. If you are extremely knowledgeable about blood diamonds, then you know that some areas of Africa actually have clean diamonds that are good for the local economy. However, if you aren't heavily researched, it might be best to stay clear away from the region.

It also helps to have your diamond certifications straightened out; for instance, GIA certified diamond rings are not necessarily non conflict diamonds. The third question you should ask is the retailer's policy in buying and selling blood diamonds. If you are dedicated to this cause, then you might want to only support jewelers who refuse any association with blood diamonds. The fourth request is to see a guarantee from their diamond suppliers that the rocks they sell are clean.

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