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Conflict Neutral

Much of Africa is very unstable and numerous countries are plagued with civil wars and groups intent on chaos and harm. Much of this is funded by the black market trade of items such as gold, cassiterite, coltan and more relevantly to us, diamonds. Diamonds which have been traded illegally for weapons or to fund illegal conflicts are known as blood diamonds or conflict diamonds. The film 'Blood Diamond' directed by Edward Zwick in particular has highlighted this issue in recent times. With the advent of the Kimberley Process the diamond industry has made great progress in reducing the number of illegal diamonds sold each year to only half of a percent of the total uncut diamond sales. However diamonds are very valuable so this still equates to approximately $100million per year. The problems come when diamonds are cut.

Unfortunately diamonds do not come with a bar code so identification of individual stones can be very difficult, if not impossible. Indeed the most valuable diamonds by definition have no markings or visible colour. Also, the traceability imposed by the Kimberley process does not extend to cut diamonds. If a diamond is purchased from a retail jewellery store the jeweller has in most cases bought that diamond from a manufacturer. That manufacturer will have bought the diamond from a stone dealer. Some dealers cut there own diamonds but others simply buy from stone cutters. The stone cutter may have bought from another dealer or directly from the mine. Any link in this chain is in principle open to abuse. Particularly when the value of diamonds is considered as well as the desperate conditions some work in. Imagine working in that chain and someone demanding you take diamonds while threatening violence to your family. In short, people who train children to be murderers and themselves kill indiscriminately are likely to be very determined and resourceful.

With these facts in mind it is clear that those who tritely say 'Conflict free diamonds sold here.' are at best naive and ignorant or at worst liars. When a trusted supply chain is used it is fair to say 'Only diamonds which are to the best of our knowledge conflict free are sold here.' but the subtle distinction is important. By asserting ethical kudos on a product the customer trusts that this item; one of the most precious they may ever buy, has definitely come from a source where no one has been harmed. If this cannot be proven the customer should not be misguided in this way.

To compound matters the simple act of sale helps to maintain the value of diamonds which reinforces their role in illegal trade. One cannot even take the simple view that African diamonds should be avoided because much of Africa relies upon diamond sales for the stability of it's economy. Adding all these things to the historical impact of diamonds it is abundantly clear that there is a lot of work still to be done. We argue that if you involve yourself with diamonds, even just by buying an engagement ring, you have a responsibility to the people who have or will be harmed as a result.

The Conflict Neutral approach is somewhat similar to that of carbon credits. We argue that if it is impossible to be certain that no harm is done then some good should be done to neutralise some of the possible negative effects. A donation of 1 percent of the value of the item is suggested to register your diamond as 'Conflict Neutral' and recieve trackable certification. All of the donated money is given to effective local charities. Operations are as transparent as possible giving every penny donated to the charities and displaying financial information to give tracability. In order to fund our operations an administrative fee is charged per registration but as we operate on a not for profit basis any surplus funds are donated to the charities.


Become Conflict-Neutral today!