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The Business of… Diamonds

Everyone knows they’re a girl’s best friend, but did you know they’re in reality worth much, much less than you pay for them? Kipp gets a sparkle in its eye…

August 10, 2010 4:23 by

Conflict diamonds

Thanks in no small part to De Beers’s efforts, back in the day a glittering rock on a woman’s hand only brought to mind notions of privilege and enduring love. But today, thanks to the global news cycle, diamonds are also associated with a completely different set of images: civil unrest, weapons trade, human rights violations, brutality, and worker abuses – to name just a few. Amnesty International calls them “conflict diamonds” – they are sold to fund armed conflict and civil war.

“Profits from the trade in conflict diamonds, worth billions of dollars, were used by warlords and rebels to buy arms during the devastating wars in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone. Wars that have cost an estimated 3.7 million lives,” according to the group.

And while much of the conflict in these countries seems to have subsided, the problem hasn’t gone away.

“Diamonds mined in rebel-held areas in Côte d’Ivoire, a West African country in the midst of a volatile conflict, are reaching the international diamond market,” say Amnesty. “Conflict diamonds from Liberia are also being smuggled into neighboring countries and exported as part of the legitimate diamond trade.”

Amnesty International encourages advocacy by consumers in the retail setting to ensure that diamonds are legitimate and that no innocents “died for your diamond.”


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