Leaders in the diamond industry are reacting to recent events in Zimbabwe clearly illustrating the failure of the Kimberley Process, upon which the industry relies to prevent diamond sales from funding conflict. Recently it became clear that blood diamonds funding murder, forced labor, rape and political oppression in Zimbabwe are still reaching global consumer markets labeled as ‘conflict-free.’
Having just resigned from his position at the World Diamond Council, influential industry expert Martin Rapaport protested the industry’s inaction: ‘Tens of thousands of carats of blood diamonds are now in dealers’ inventories and jewelers’ showcases, and are being actively sold to consumers….Instead of eliminating blood diamonds, the KP has become a process for the systematic legalization and legitimization of blood diamonds.
Rapaport was a principal architect of the KP, along with Ian Smillie, who has also criticized it as a failure. ‘Consumers are being misled by the ‘conflict-free’ label. With a broken system, it’s not enough to accept a diamond’s Kimberley Process certification; you have to know the practices of the mine it came from,’ said Beth Gerstein, the co-founder of Brilliant Earth, a national online jeweler that has created a new business model in response to the KP’s failures. “There are other certification and mining guarantees that a retailer can use in place of the flawed Kimberley Process,” Gerstein continued. “Unfortunately, it requires a proactive and ethical retailer to now make sure blood diamonds aren’t in showcases and very few are willing to put in the effort to do so. We’ve shown it’s possible to sell jewelry consumers feel good about and hope other retailers join us in reform of a notoriously harmful industry.”
Here are FCI, we are diligent in instigating recycling processes that re-cut antique-cut diamonds that may have been scratched and chipped over the years, buying antique engagement rings that may have damaged settings in order to remount the center stone, utilizing the precious stones in estate and vintage jewelry by polishing and re-cutting them to remount in popular style engagement rings. Although one can quite obviously not be 100% sure of the origin of even Conflict Free diamonds today, one can frequent retail outlets that appear to be actively and passionately involved in Re-using, Re-cycling and Re-ducing waste and inefficiency, in so doing, limiting the possibility of supplying Conflict-free diamonds. Alternatively, how about a beautiful ruby, sapphire, emerald or Santa Maria aquamarine?