Posted on March 05 2016
How does one avoid buying conflict engagement rings? These precious stones come from all over the world, mined and distributed from places that look and operate far differently than Main Street USA. To put it boldly, it’s almost impossible to be absolutely sure that the engagement ring is free of controversy, but you can reduce the likelihood of buying a diamond that was mined and sold unethically by following these helpful tips by Bel Viaggio.
First of all, conflict-free engagement rings don’t cost more.
If a local jeweler or online store states that the engagement ring you are looking at is more money because they have certified that it’s conflict-free, it’s time to look elsewhere. Costs go up because of size, rarity, cut, color, quality, grading, customization, and the history of the ring itself. The irony is that charging more for ethical rings is unethical.
Did your diamond come from a place in the world known for bad labor and environmental standards?
In general, an ethically sourced diamond must be mined in areas with strict labor standards, such as child labor, fair wages, and safe conditions. Mining companies must also avoid harming the ecosystem and environment in the area. In general, if your diamond came from a shady part of the world, you should keep looking.
Simple questions to ask the jeweler:
Do you know where the diamond was mined, cut and polished?
Can you prove it?
Certifications aren't just for job applicants.
Diamonds are mined in a rough format and then transported to government diamond offices. When diamonds arrive at government diamond offices, the diamond’s source is checked to see that they Kimberley Process (KP) compliant. When you buy a diamond, the jeweler should be able to provide this certificate. If they can’t, that should raise an immediate red flag as to the stone's origin. Ask to see the diamond's System of Warranties statement, and know what these certificates look like before you go diamond shopping.
Basic KP Requirements:
Transported in a tamper-resistant container.
Accompanied by a government-validated Kimberley Process Certificate. These certificates are used to authenticate that the diamonds are KP compliant and must accompany the diamond each time it changes hands. This is called the System of Warranties. Each certificate must be resistant to forgery, uniquely numbered and describe the shipment's contents.
Each certificate must be resistant to forgery, uniquely numbered and describe the shipment's contents.
The shipments are only supposed to be exported to other KPCS participant countries.
Ask the jeweler if they have a Conflict Diamond Compliance Program.
These programs vary among jewelers, but they basically require their diamond vendors to provide proof of warranty from their sources of diamond merchandise. These are typically accompanied by Vendor Codes of Conduct, where suppliers must sign it in order to do business with the retailer. Also, check to see if their program’s policy details are posted on their website. Don’t just take their word for it over the phone or in person.
Example Warranty from Vendors
"The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. The undersigned hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict-free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds."
The Kimberley Process should be taken with a grain of salt.
The Kimberley Process is restricted to “conflict diamonds” and not “blood diamonds”.
Conflict Diamonds - Rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
Blood Diamonds - Rough diamonds that fund war crimes and crimes against humanity by government forces. These diamonds evade the regulations and are allowed to contaminate the global diamond market.
Basically, if a diamond has not funded so-called rebel movements, it is not considered a conflict diamond. Sadly, this means that a diamond receiving KP certification may still be tied to many other brutal crimes again humanity such as child labor, killings, beatings, torture, and other forms of violence. These diamonds fall into the blood diamond classification. It may also have destroyed the local environment where it was mined. The KPCS system was implemented only as a deterrent to blood diamonds and since the Kimberley Process is an international organization that has no permanent office or staff, it has a difficult time regulating the blood diamond and conflict diamond trade. Instead, the KPCS relies on its participants to be self-regulate the industry and ensure compliance.
Know the legal standing of the System of Warranties.
…because it has no legal standing. It was established by the World Diamond Council to create the illusion that the KP regulations extend to cut and polished diamond. It allows sellers of diamonds to self-certify the diamonds they sell as conflict-free based on the fact that the rough diamonds they were crafted from were KP compliant. It’s a flawed system which facilitates the certain diamond variations that generate revenue used to fund war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Russian, Australian, and Canadian stones have good track records.
These countries are some of the most advanced countries in the world. They have good to great labor and environmental records and have limited government corruption. A full list of KP participants can be found here on KimberelyProcess.com if you don’t have access to stones mined and distributed from well known advanced countries.
Know the Odds
Conflict diamonds are rare as they currently account for less than 1% of the world diamond production. So there’s a very good chance that your engagement ring is conflict free, especially if you purchase it from reputable jewelers located in advanced countries.
As you can see, the business of conflict-free engagement rings needs a lot of work and unfortunately, the United States can’t solely correct the issues with its trade. It’s a global issue that will progress as more countries and agencies become more efficient in implementing the KP requirements and funding strict oversight. But if you practice these simple steps we spoke to, you will undoubtedly reduce your risk to buying conflict and blood diamonds.