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Choose conflict-free diamonds

Written by Shomik Ghosh .
Before popping the big question, consider the contents of that little box. Conflict diamonds are associated with illicit trade practices, human rights violations, and disregard for the environment.
Thanks to swift actions by the diamond industry, governments, and non-government organizations across the globe, chances are you'll be choosing conflict-free diamonds by default when you go ring shopping next. It does, however, help to be aware that conflict diamonds do still exist and to understand the methods you can take to avoid these dirty and dangerous gems.

How to choose conflict-free diamonds

  • Educate yourself. The conflict diamond dilemma is a complex, saddening one that went relatively unnoticed by many when at its height in the 1990s. Some of the diamond-buying public simply turned a blind eye since these diamond-funded civil wars were taking place in turmoil-prone regions of Africa and not in their own backyards. Thankfully there is now heightened awareness over this ethical — and also environmental — issue. Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell and The Heartless Stone by Tom Zoellner are excellent print resources.
  • It's much easier than in the past to go the conflict-free route while perusing the diamond case at your local jeweler thanks to the Kimberly Process Certification System. However, the results of a 2006 survey on conflict diamond policies among US jewelry retailers, conducted by Amnesty International and Global Witness, showed that 19 out of 37 jewelry retailers that were asked to participate failed to respond, raising questions about how serious retailers are about keeping conflict diamonds out of their supply chains. These retailers include Costco, the Home Shopping Network, and K-mart. Retailers that responded and have effective policies include Tiffany & Co., Zales, Fred Meyer Jewelers, and Sterling (Signet). Read more and see a complete list of retailers here.
  • So what's next? Whether you're shopping around for a certain "engagement" or simply indulging yourself, remember that diamonds are forever so take steps to ensure that your bling was ethically sourced. After all, there's more to consider than the "four C's" — cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Ask jewelers about their involvement with the Kimberly Process and if they can provide warranties to prove that their diamonds are conflict-free. If they can't or seem apathetic to the cause, move on. If do you encounter a retailer that refuses to prove that their diamonds are conflict-free and you take your business elsewhere, it sends a resolute message.

Find it! Conflict-free diamond retailers

Choosing conflict-free diamonds helps you go green because…

  • Although the conflict diamond issue is first and foremost one of social change in war-torn countries, it's also an environmental one — conflict-free diamonds are mined with environmental regulations in mind.
  • Many jewelers who support the movement to banish the conflict diamond trade also support various environmental causes and incorporate sustainable business practices into their operations.
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