The diamond industry is still tainted by conflict, but it's possible to buy a jewel that helps people—instead of hurting them+ READ ARTICLE
As I write in the cover story in this week’s TIME International, blood diamonds still exist, and the industry as a whole is still beset by problems over conflict, smuggling and child labor. Even worse, because the existing Kimberley Process certification system has so many loopholes, it can be almost impossible to be sure that your diamond isn’t tainted. But if you’re in the market for an engagement or wedding ring, there are ways to ensure that your money is more likely to help miners on the ground in countries like the Congo than it is to hurt them. Here is a checklist to make sure your lifetime investment doesn’t mean a lifetime of poverty and suffering for someone else:
Ask your jeweler where the diamonds were mined. A responsible jeweler will know every step in the path from mine to market. If he doesn’t, move on.
Demand details. Don’t settle for vague assurances about reputable suppliers or Kimberly Process certification—the KP does not ban diamonds that fund war crimes and human rights abuses by government forces. Nor does it address unfair labor practices or environmental degradation brought about by irresponsible diamond mining.
Avoid diamonds that come from countries like Zimbabwe and Angolab, where human rights abuses in and around mines have been well documented by organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Look for diamonds mined in Canada. They may be more expensive, but labor and environmental standards are rigorously enforced. That said, buying Canadian diamonds doesn’t help African countries improve their industries. Consider donating to organizations like Diamond Development Initiative International, a group that’s working to support small-scale diamond operations around the world.
In Africa, Namibia and Botswana are another good bet. Those countries work with small-scale miners as well as large-scale industry to make sure that income from mining creates jobs and leads to development. Both countries enforce strict labor and environmental standards. Sierra Leone is going in that direction, though the recent Ebola outbreak has temporarily set progress back.
Recycle. Look for vintage or antique rings. A good jeweler can reset, or even recut, an old stone to make a modern ring. They may have had bloody beginnings, but at least its over.
Don’t stop with the diamonds. Check the origin of your gold as well. Gold mining leaves toxic wastes like mercury and cyanide which are very damaging for the environment and the people who mine it. Opt for recycled gold, or Fair trade gold.