Conflict Diamonds – What Are They?

This month’s article is by Kirsty Brown from Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design

Diamonds are mined in parts of Africa, Canada, Russia and Australia. Conflict diamonds, also referred to as ‘blood diamonds’ are diamonds that originate from areas in Africa, such as Sierra Leone, which was controlled by forces or factions, and/or corrupt governments – who were responsible for fuelling conflict and wars. Small scale diamond mining was exploited and these diamonds were often used to fund military action by the forces.

Although much of the conflict that brought these issues into being has been resolved, this does not mean conflict diamonds have disappeared. The issue of blood diamonds will now always exist. Many of the wars may be over, but the stones are now out there, and so it is so important to ensure that none of these stones make it into ethical jewellery.

Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design follow strict guidelines to guarantee as far as they can that this does not happen. Awareness of the use of such stones is so important, so not to continue their use. We have a duty to the millions that suffered in their mining, to make sure these diamonds don’t infiltrate the diamond industry.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was created in 2002 by the UN. It originated from a meeting of South African diamond producing states in 2000, in the town of Kimberley.

The scheme is designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering legitimate jewellery chains – so we can know the diamonds we’re using aren’t born out of war. All of the new diamonds that Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design use come through this process so that they can ensure that they are comfortable with the diamonds that they use.

When a country becomes a member of the Kimberley Process, they ensure that any diamond mining is supervised and that the diamonds (in all their different states, e.g. uncut) are only transferred between participating countries in tamper proof containers alongside documentation. Therefore every diamond is tracked from the mine to the point of cutting.

The Kimberley Process covers 99.8% of the world’s diamond trade. Of course, that means that there is still 0.2% that is still not covered, and Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design are very active in working with their suppliers to ensure that none of that percentage makes it into their jewellery.


Finally, It is important to note that whilst the Kimberley Process may be a step in the right direction, it is not without fault. The issue is that a country only has to meet minimum requirements to be able to be a member, and the scheme is enforced by the individual countries. Whilst it is observed by outside parties – there is still room for tampering.

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© Living Ethically / Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design January 2012