DEFINING “BEYOND CONFLICT FREE”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A DIAMOND TO BE ETHICAL OR GO “BEYOND CONFLICT FREE”?

LOOK FOR DIAMONDS UNTOUCHED BY ALL VIOLENCE, NOT JUST CIVIL WARS.

ETHICAL DIAMONDS ARE UNTAINTED BY VIOLENCE AND MINED IN KEEPING WITH STRICT LABOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS.

For a diamond to be ethically sourced, at the very least, it should not have financed a civil war. But diamond-fueled violence often happens in countries that are not officially at war. An ethically-sourced diamond should be mined in conditions untouched by bloodshed, regardless of the cause.

LOOK FOR DIAMONDS MINED IN ALIGNMENT WITH STRICT LABOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS.

To be ethically sourced, a diamond must be mined in keeping with strict labor and environmental standards. Child labor should not be used. Workers should earn fair wages and enjoy safe, decent working conditions. Miners or mining companies must take care to avoid serious environmental harm and treat local ecosystems with respect.

POTENTIAL PITFALL:

RETAILERS RELY ON KIMBERLEY PROCESS CERTIFICATION TO SHOW THAT THEIR DIAMONDS ARE ETHICALLY SOURCED.

The Kimberley Process, the most well-known effort to regulate the diamond trade, only attempts to keep conflict diamonds – narrowly defined as diamonds that finance rebel movements – out of the diamond supply. Regrettably, it grants “conflict free” certification to diamonds tainted by violence, child labor, extreme poverty, worker exploitation, and environmental harm.

POTENTIAL PITFALL:

RETAILERS OFFER ONLY “CONFLICT FREE” DIAMONDS.

Many retailers address ethical concerns by explaining that their diamonds are “conflict free.” However, this conflict free definition usually just defines conflict free diamonds as diamonds that have not financed a rebel group in a war-torn country. The truth is that diamonds marketed as conflict free are tied to abuses such as torture, rape, killings, beatings, forced labor, child labor, corruption, and environmental devastation.

RETAILER RESPONSIBILITIES

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM MY RETAILER?

ASK TO SEE YOUR RETAILER’S OFFICIAL WRITTEN POLICY.

MANY U.S. JEWELRY RETAILERS DO LITTLE OR NOTHING TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEIR DIAMONDS COME FROM ETHICAL SOURCES.

At a bare minimum, every diamond retailer should have an official written policy on ethical sourcing available for public view. Staff should also be fully aware of company policies and able to explain them to shoppers. If your retailer doesn’t have any information, beware!

ASK YOUR RETAILER TO IDENTIFY THE ORIGINS OF THEIR DIAMONDS AND DESCRIBE LABOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS.

Retailers should be able to identify where their diamonds are mined. Retailers should also be able to provide information about the labor and environmental controls in their countries of origin. If no information is available, the ethical status of their diamonds is in question.

POTENTIAL PITFALL:

RETAILERS WHO CLAIM THAT THE DIAMOND SUPPLY IS MORE THAN 99% CONFLICT FREE.

One often repeated claim is that conflict diamonds have fallen to around one percent of the global diamond trade, or that 99% of diamonds are conflict free. This misleading claim only accounts for diamonds that come from nations in an official state of civil war. Violence by oppressive governments is left out of this statistic, as is child labor, worker exploitation, and environmental devastation. In reality, large portions of the diamond supply are tainted by violence as well as shocking lapses in labor and environmental standards.

ETHICAL ORIGINS

WHERE DO ETHICALLY-SOURCED DIAMONDS COME FROM?

LOOK FOR DIAMONDS ORIGINATING FROM CANADA.

ETHICALLY-SOURCED DIAMONDS ORIGINATE FROM COUNTRIES SUCH AS CANADA,NAMIBIA, AND BOTSWANA.

Canadian diamonds are among the most ethically-mined diamonds in the world. In Canada, diamonds are mined in the Northwest Territories in alignment with Canada’s strict labor and environmental laws. Canadian diamond mines work cooperatively with local indigenous communities and take great care to protect the Arctic environment.

LOOK FOR DIAMONDS ORIGINATING FROM NAMIBIA OR BOTSWANA.

Of the countries in Africa that produce diamonds, Botswana and Namibia have done an especially good job of managing their diamond resources. In both these countries, diamonds are helping to pay for investments in education and infrastructure and raise standards of living for all citizens. Mining operations in Namibia and Botswana are violence-free and meet strict labor and environmental standards.

POTENTIAL PITFALL:

AVOID DIAMONDS FROM COUNTRIES INCLUDING ZIMBABWE, ANGOLA, AND CÔTE D’IVOIRE.

Diamonds from Zimbabwe and Angola are tainted by killings, torture, beatings, sexual violence, corruption, and the use of forced labor. In Côte d’Ivoire, diamonds are fueling a lengthy civil conflict. Any retailer who admits to providing diamonds from these countries should be strictly avoided.

TRACKING & CERTIFICATION

HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT MY DIAMOND MEETS HIGH ETHICAL STANDARDS?

LOOK FOR RETAILERS ABLE TO TRACK THEIR DIAMONDS PATH.

Natural diamonds originate in mines before being transported to facilities for cutting and polishing. From there, they are sent to wholesalers or retailers. At any point along the supply chain, it is easy for diamonds with questionable histories to be mixed into the diamond supply.

LOOK FOR RETAILERS WILLING TO VERIFY, IN WRITING, THAT THEIR DIAMONDS ARE ETHICALLY-SOURCED.

Not all retailer claims are equally reliable. But retailers who understand their own supply chains and offer detailed information about their diamond sources are more likely to take their sourcing responsibilities seriously.

POTENTIAL PITFALL: RETAILER RELIES EXCLUSIVELY ON THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS FOR CERTIFICATION AND TRACKING.

The Kimberley Process is the international diamond certification scheme relied on by most diamond retailers. Unfortunately, the Kimberley Process focuses exclusively on conflict diamonds – or diamonds that finance rebel groups – and does not provide assurance that a diamond has been ethically sourced. In addition, the Kimberley Process is vulnerable to fraud. Due to rampant smuggling, diamonds receiving Kimberley Process certification could have come from literally anywhere.

QUALITY & AFFORDABILITY

ARE ETHICAL DIAMONDS THE SAME QUALITY?

BUYING AN ETHICALLY-SOURCED DIAMOND DOES NOT MEAN COMPROMISING ON QUALITY.

ETHICALLY-SOURCED DIAMONDS ORIGINATE FROM SOCIALLY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE SOURCES.

Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana, Russia, and South Africa meet high labor and environmental standards. They are also known for their exceptional quality.But it should be emphasized that the quality of an individual diamond depends on objective characteristics such cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. When considering diamonds greater than 0.30 carats, make sure the diamond has an independent lab grading report from a leading gem lab.

ARE ETHICALLY-SOURCED DIAMONDS EASY TO FIND?

ETHICAL CHOICES ARE AVAILABLE FROM SELECT RETAILERS.

A broad selection of ethically-sourced diamonds is available today through vetted suppliers, such as FLYNNI. Canadian diamonds remained undiscovered well into the last century. When they were eventually discovered, special priority was placed on negotiating mutually beneficial agreements with local indigenous populations and respecting the Arctic environment. A broad inventory of high quality Canadian diamonds is currently available in popular shapes and sizes. Additional sources of ethically-sourced diamonds are available from Namibia, Botswana, Russia, and South Africa, where diamonds are mined, cut, and polished using responsible labor and environmental practices.

LOOK FOR LOW PRICES.

Choosing an ethically-sourced diamond does not mean higher prices. FLYNNI offers excellent value by providing our socially conscious jewelry at the lowest possible price, generally lower than many traditional jewelry retailers offer for standard jewelry.

RETAILER CHECKLIST

Use this handy checklist when checking out diamond jewelry retailers.

Choosing a diamond from ethical sources helps to enhance its beauty, while fostering change in the diamond industry.