Environmental awareness is almost everywhere. More and more people are getting conscious of being eco-friendly and are making mindful choices in:
Sustainable development. Food and food packaging. Recycling. Conserving natural resources and so on.
So, it should not be surprising that this choice extends to diamonds too. Indeed, socially responsible customers are asking for diamonds that are: Conflict-free. Lab-created and Eco-friendly.
Here are some of the top reasons to buy eco-friendly diamonds.
You will own a masterpiece in more ways than one
Imagine telling people the story behind the diamond. It has all the properties of a natural diamond but it has been nurtured in a lab, in a cleaner environment and using much less energy than digging up a diamond in some mine. No dirt and mud were displaced to find your stone. No human beings had to go through sweat and toil and more importantly, there is not even a whiff of ‘blood diamond’ tag that can be attached to your precious stone.
Getting accurate about its origin
A lot of people have woken up to the reality of conflict diamonds or blood diamonds. You really would not like your favorite ring or other jewelry to be associated with war and strife and violence, isn’t it? But, even if you know your diamond store completely, can you be 100% confident that the stones were not sourced from countries that are troubled?
Well, with eco-friendly diamonds, you can be completely certain that they come with peace and in peace too! Isn’t that an interesting angle to start a conversation with?
Plenty of choice in the market
Thanks to the ever-rising consciousness about eco-friendly diamonds, there is a veritable cornucopia of choice in the marketplace today. So, you can look for a seller who is: Cost-effective. Can give you support in terms of recycled gold and platinum too. Design advice when it comes to making and crafting jewelry Open about his sourcing, creating and selling process and Willing to give you certifications for your diamonds too.
The point is to minimize diamonds and precious metals sourced from environmentally – devastating mines. And this is where the vast range of sellers can help you tremendously.
Recycling an heirloom
Apart from lab-grown diamonds, you can also go eco-friendly by looking for an heirloom diamond. Vintage jewelry and even pieces of jewelry worn by your forefathers will have good
quality diamonds. So, why not recycle these precious stones? In most cases, you only need to invest a bit of time and energy in cleaning up these stones and re-using them in your choice of rings, pendants and earrings and so on. Here again, you will be creating a legacy that you can be proud of. You will not only be channeling the history and tradition of an heirloom piece but you will also be adding your unique story to it. Apart from looking at your family, you may also like to look at:
Auctions. Pawn shops. Estate sales. Jewelry stores. Jewelers and so on.
A lot of people do buy diamonds as an investment. So, it is difficult to put a price on this precious stone. After all, it is the value proposition that comes with a stone and not its price tag isn’t it? But in a lot of cases, eco-friendly diamonds (whether you source it from a labor from a pawn shop or use a family heirloom) can prove to be much more than their price tags. The depreciation factor has already been taken care of and you are left with a stone that is highly valuable but has not cost you an arm and a foot.
The diamond industry is a thriving one. From statement earrings and delicate necklaces to symbolic engagement rings and wedding bands, the sparkling rocks appear in an array of elegant jewellery around the globe. Usually a representation of eternal love, sometimes passed on through generations within a family, and almost always given to someone in the hopes of the sentiment and love lasting forever, it is therefore unsurprising that people are becoming more interested in the source of their diamonds.
As one of the rarest and most extraordinary gems on the planet, there is great value in understanding the origin of the stones and the journey taken from mine to ring. The increasing knowledge led to a decline in demand for diamonds for a few years, before picking up again in 2016. Although the market is currently thriving worldwide, there are still some dark corners that aren’t representative of the happiness and love typically portrayed by the gemstones.
What are conflict diamonds?
Also known as blood diamonds, conflict diamonds are those excavated from mines dominated by rebel units opposed to governments. These factions sell diamonds illegally to fund violence and invading armies.
Mountains of jewels are not the only outcome from these mines. Civil wars, human suffering and exploitation, environmental degradation, and destruction are all results from multiple diamond mines around the globe. The past two decades alone have seen seven countries in Africa experiencing civil wars, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic.
Approximately 3.7 million lives have been lost from the wars fueled by the black diamond trade so far, with millions more missing. To date, there are still millions living with the consequences and suffering from broken homes, families, and lives. The rebel gangs are often liable for the violence caused in these areas. However, governments and mining companies are also responsible for a lot of the destruction caused in countries that aren’t at war.
Consumers are increasingly gaining awareness of the violence and histories of these diamonds, supported by the recognition of award-winning film, Blood Diamond, 2006. As a consequence, the fight against the carnage is rising, yet violence is still present in many mining areas around Africa, and a notable amount of gems are still joining the market undetected. Just ten years ago, the industry was predicted to be made up of between four and fifteen percent of conflict diamonds.
Having lived in both South Africa and Zimbabwe for 15 years, Nikolay, CEO of Taylor & Hart, recalls his time there:
“Growing up in South Africa, we were acutely aware of the human rights violations that were happening in neighbouring Zimbabwe, under the government of President Robert Mugabe. Millions of people were being oppressed by his regime, and thousands crossed the borders into South Africa as refugees, trying to find work illegally. When in 2008 we heard about the crackdown by the government on miners in the Marange mines, we decided to take an active position, and though at the time Zimbabwean diamonds were not considered ‘conflict’ by international standards, we would ensure we no longer knowingly offered them and have not ever since.”
The growth of ethically sourced diamonds
Concern grew as the ability to differentiate ethically sourced diamonds from blood diamonds became apparent. This resulted in the Kimberley Process (KP) being established in 2003, in an effort to make the entire industry conflict-free. There are 80 countries involved in the certification scheme so far, which has managed to reduce the number of conflict diamonds infiltrating the supply chain, leading to less than one percent of diamonds in current circulation estimated to be unethical.
Unfortunately, the KP is not flawless as multiple countries have declined to be a part of the scheme. There has also been a lot of criticism about how sufficient the verification of the diamonds is. Only governments, NGO’s, and professional industry bodies are included in the identification process and workers in areas such as Zimbabwe, who work under extremely high levels of brutality and denied fundamental rights, are excluded. Zimbabwe is a certified conflict-free country, and so any diamonds acquired from this country are marked as such, yet the suffering endured is not considered. Being paper-based is also an issue due to increased possibilities of tampering, imitation records, and loss.
The evolution of the fight against the blood diamond trade is accelerating, and more people and businesses are getting on board to help the suffering stop. The latest breakthrough comes from a company named Everledger. They are working with Blockchain technology and aim to transition the Kimberley Process to an entirely digital system. This will make information available to retailers and consumers, and the whole process will become more accurate.
Many people in the industry avoid any diamonds coming from Zimbabwe, due to them being unethical, even though they are conflict-free and so the KP is used as a reference guide only. CanadaMark can fill the gap of information for many traders as it details the origin and history of the gem. Consumers on the high street can also request certificates for their diamond purchases, which will state the country of origin.
Synthetic diamonds have been introduced as a solution to the problems in the verification of ethical diamonds and have a successful niche in the market. However, this could not replace authentic diamonds due to the additional challenges that would arise. The diamond industry is the only source of income for the local economy in many countries in South Africa and replacing that for lab produced gems would leave a more significant issue. 10 million people are currently affected by the financial economy from the diamond industry, and so millions of jobs would be lost if synthetic gems were to become mainstream.
Value of diamonds is increasing as demand rises and fewer sources are located.