We all know diamonds are beautiful to look at. But unfortunately, they can sometimes have a not so beautiful origin. When choosing a diamond for your engagement ring there are important factors to consider… and no, we’re not just talking about the 4Cs. Ensuring your diamond is conflict-free helps make the world a better place in the long run, and helps you make an informed purchase without hurting others unnecessarily.
So what are conflict diamonds, exactly? Also known as ‘blood diamonds’, they are diamonds that are illegally traded to finance wars and terror regimes. These gems usually originate from certain parts of Africa, but can and do end up all over the world. Conflict-free diamonds are, as you may have guessed, ethically sourced and sold legally with no connections to war or terror at all.
If buying a conflict-free diamond is a priority for you (and it really should be), then choosing a stone that originated in any of the following countries is a safe bet…
Canada: Canada’s diamonds come from the country’s arctic tundra region. Its diamond supply was only really discovered within the last century, and the government enforces very strict environmental policies to ensure that they are mined with minimum impact on the natural landscape and wildlife. They also negotiate mutually beneficial labour agreements with the region’s indigenous people. Finding higher standards in any other part of the world is pretty much impossible.
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Russia: It doesn’t score quite as highly where the environment is concerned, but Russia’s diamond mining practices are still admirable. Their supply comes from two main regions; northeastern Siberia and Arkhangeslk along the White Sea Coast. Diamonds are the foundation of these regions’ economies, communities and labour force. Miners earn twice the average salary in Russia and also receive affordable housing, healthcare and retirement funds.
Australia: Much like Canada and Russia, the mining industry in Australia does wonders for local economies in remote rural regions. Australian diamonds are strictly monitored from the moment they emerge from their mines, and efforts are made to keep mining practices sustainable wherever possible. Along with all of the other countries in this list, Australia is also a signatory to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Namibia: Namibia has virtually eliminated conflict diamonds through a system known as benefication, now considered a best practice in the diamond industry. Basically, this means that Namibia cuts and polishes all diamonds mined within its borders, thus improving the economy and rate of employment as well as ensuring that trade stays above board. Again, workers in the industry earn around twice the national average salary. Did we mention the diamonds are top quality, too?
Botswana: Arguably the world leader in conflict-free diamonds, Botswana takes huge pride in its strict labour and environmental laws regarding the diamond trade. The government has used income earned from diamond mining and trading in very positive ways, establishing universal primary education and investing in healthcare, infrastructure and local economies. The majority of their supply is found in the Kalahari desert and is mined as sustainably as is humanly possible.
South Africa: South Africa was the original ‘diamond rush’ destination in the 19th century, and it was also one of the countries that spearheaded the Kimberley Process (a series of import and certification regulations and requirements adopted by over 80 nations to stamp out conflict diamonds). Although not perfect, a South African diamond – if bought from a reputable source and traceable back to the mine – is a safe bet for being conflict-free.