Wedding planner website The Knot asks a common question to diamond ring purchasers: “How can you be sure your stone is conflict-free?” The fact that this question is still a concern to consumers even today, when ‘conflict diamonds’ have been all but eliminated from the supply chain, points to a misconception that most, if not all natural diamonds are considered conflict diamonds. But what exactly is a ‘conflict diamond’? Why do people still hold to the misconception that there is a great risk of buying them? And what steps can consumers take to be absolutely certain?
According to the common definition, “Conflict diamonds are diamonds illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa.” Or as the United Nations (UN) defines them, they are, "Diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council." In the years since 2002, when the UN got together with the diamond industry to create the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to certify that rough diamonds are sourced from ‘conflict-free’ areas, it has prevented more than 99% of the dubious diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. Still, says The Knot, “it’s smart to do your homework.”
Firstly, they advise, when you buy a diamond, the jeweler should be able to provide a KP certificate - if they can't, you should be wary of the stone's origin. Ask your jeweler about the diamond’s System of Warranties. Or perhaps just go for Canadian diamonds. But Canada is not the only source of ethical diamonds mined in an environmentally conscious way: many other countries such as Russia, Australia and most African countries meet the same criteria. And it is reassuring to know that more than 80% of rough diamonds sourced from these mines and entering the trade at some point pass through Antwerp, which is widely known for its strict adherance to best practices and compliance with the highest ethical and social standards. Its Diamond Office, a supervisory body associated with the Belgian government, inspects and verifies every diamond shipment imported to and exported from Antwerp. In an effort to encourage the entire diamond trade in Antwerp and around the world to uphold the highest standards, it launched a new campaign: “Diamonds and Antwerp, It’s in our DnA!”