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Should We Be Conflict-neutral


mgs019
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The following information is from the Kimberley Process website:

 

The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates the trade in rough diamonds. Its aim is to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, while helping to protect the legitimate trade in rough diamonds.

 

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has developed a set of minimum requirements that each Participant must implement. See Sections II, V (a), VI (8,9) of the KPCS document. Monitoring is through peer review visits (with government, industry and civil society participation), annual reporting and statistical reporting. Virtually all KP participants have now invited review of their implementation.

 

How do I know I am not buying a conflict diamond?

 

While the vast majority of the rough diamond trade is regulated by the Kimberley Process, we encourage you to be sure. Here are some helpful hints to follow when purchasing a diamond:

 

Always buy from a reputable retailer.

 

Don't be afraid to ask questions like, where were the stones imported from? In which country were they mined? Were the stones traded under the auspices of the Kimberley Process?

 

Your retailer should be able to answer these questions for you.

 

The most important tip to guard against purchasing a conflict diamond is to use your intuition. Do not be afraid to shop around. If something arouses your suspicions move on to another retailer. Unless you are satisfied with the answers and service provided, do not make your purchase.

The key things to note are that:

1) It is only uncut diamonds which are regulated.

2) You must rely on reputation to be sure of non-conflict status.

 

It follows that it is impossible to prove if an individual diamond is conflict free.

 

When you go in to a Jewellers and they say " Oh, we only sell non-conflict diamonds" ask them to prove it. They cannot.

 

The jewellery trade relies upon trust to ensure legal trade. There is however alot of money involved and temptation is great. This is why there is still an, albeit reduced, illegal trade in diamonds.

 

In addition to this, basic economics tells us that the value of something depends upon supply and demand. By trading in diamonds we are creating demand. If there were no demand it would be impossible to trade diamonds illegally so by just selling a diamond legitemately we are contributing to the illegal trade.

 

You could say that there is no such thing as a conflict free diamond.

 

So, if we want to buy diamonds but not contribute to the horrors of africa what can we do?

Beyond being as sure as possible that our individual diamond is ethically sourced the only thing we can do is to offset the harm by doing good. A simple donation, say 1% of the value of the sale, to a reputable charity working to counter the ills caused by diamonds.

 

Blood-Diamond.co.uk call this being "Conflict-Neutral". You can make a donation to the "Fair Trade Diamond and Jewelry Association" from there website.

 

Become Conflict-Neutral today!

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It depends on what standards of proof you apply. You are correct that there is no scientific test at the end of the chain to indicate whether the people involved in the production of diamonds or any other product were treated badly. Everything we buy from houses to medicine to internet services involve a complex mix of people in the supply chain and there is no way to prove that all involved were treated fairly.

 

Kimberley claims that 99.8% of the diamonds mined are part of their program. Since 100% of natural diamonds were originally mined, this translates fairly well to finished stones that were cut after the implementation of Kimberley (2002). Kimberley’s critics claim that this number is inflated and that the correct number is only 98%.

 

Is 99.8% sufficient to call it ‘proof’? No, it’s not. We can do better. We will do better. But in defense of Kimberley, that’s a pretty darned good statistic. Diamonds are fungible, which means that they can be used as money. The bad guys like money. The result is that there will always be a problem of bad guys channeling legitimate sources of revenue into evil causes. It happens with such mundane things as food, water, medicine, oil and even charitable contribution. Can you ‘prove’ that the donation you are asking for will be used for good purposes? No you can’t. Can you demonstrate even a 98% assurance? Not even laudable groups like the Red Cross and Amnesty International can meet that standard. I agree that these and other NGO’s deserve your contributions and that ‘proof’ of their good works is an unreasonable standard to hold them to. Charity fraud and redirection of funds is a massive problem and it is one of the primary sources of funding for terrorists and other criminals. Why should jewelers and diamond producers be held to a so much higher standard? Let’s raise the bar together and apply the same standards for everyone. Buying diamonds contributes to the welfare of millions of people world wide, especially the people of Africa. Boycotting their products in the guise of helping them is doing more harm than good.

 

Neil

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Absolutely, I could not agree more. That is what we are trying to achieve. Africa needs diamonds but they are so valuable they will always be used in trade if physically possible. Also 0.2% is still a huge amount of money!

 

As an industry we certainly do not want to take the diamond trade from africa because huge parts of the continent relly on their sales. What we want to do is tighten the loopholes and attempt to correct any harm we have caused in the past.

 

We are considering establishing an open certification scheme where any diamond sale can have a verifyable charitable donation registered to a diamond because we want this to be open to all. The ultimate goal is to use the funds to aid at the political level, but that is down to the charities.

 

Martin

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In concept, we agree but I must confess that your scheme seems to be a tad exploitive to me. Anyone who wants to can contribute to charities that assist the people of Africa in a variety of ways. There are lots of them to choose from. It’s not related to buying a diamond at all, much less buying one from you. As best I can tell, your diamonds are mined/cut/distributed through the same general channels as everyone else’s and so you too are relying on the KPCS to have reasonable assurance of ‘conflict free’ status. I have no problem with this but the implication of your title and text is that buying a diamond from you is morally superior to buying it from one of your competitors. How is buying a diamond from you and accepting your assurance that a contribution has been made to a worthy cause better than buying a diamond from any other Kimberley compliant seller and then making the contribution yourself?

 

By the way, you have a lot of dead links on your site.

 

Neil

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You are correct, consumers are free to do all this themselves (if they know that they can and where to donate to and that it isn't all covered in 'conflict-free'). And, yes we are trying to sell diamonds in all this and intend to make a profit. Any yes also our diamonds come from the same places as everyone elses. But, tell me of another diamond seller who has done anything beyond saying "We only sell non-conflict diamonds". We are trying to acknowlege that as good as the Kimberley process is it is impossible to say that any given diamond is definately conflict free. So rather than hiding from the problem with a cover-all, its not our problem attitude, we are just trying to take a different approach.

 

Given the economic arguament, where any diamonds are traded for arms, to sell a diamond maintains the value. So, even legitimately sourced diamonds are doing harm where there are gaps in security. It is for this reason that we say conflict-neutral rather than conflict-free. Can you call any diamond truly conflict free? I don't think so. So if a diamond is bought from our site at least the consumer is not lulled in to a false sense of security about the impact of their purchace.

 

As for the exploitive thing this is why we are considering opeining the scheme up to all. I have spoken with M. Rapaport and I am hoping that they will give us backing.

 

The dead links are probably because the site is still in development. I will be adding an online stock-check and checkout section as well as lots of examples and other information. If there are any links which should work but don't I would appreciate knowing which they are so I can fix them.

 

Martin

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Martin,

 

It would be inappropriate for me as an appraiser to endorse individual jewelers but there are MANY who participate in chartable activities in support of both their own communities and international relief, including problems in Africa. I don’t mean to diminish your efforts to raise money on behalf of a cause or your aspiration to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. I even agree that socially responsible business practices should be a consideration in choosing one jeweler over another. At the same time, you should not diminish other merchants, be they contributors to causes in Africa, the Salvation Army, various church missions, the local Girl Scouts or any of a vast number of other of the worthy causes that are available. Your plan does not make you the only socially responsible diamond seller. Far from it.

 

I certainly have no problem with merchants who do business in the hope that it will make them a profit and wish you only the best at your new venture. I"m actually far more suspicious of deals that claim otherwise.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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By the way.

 

Welcome to the forum Martin. I understand about sites under development. If I think of it in a week or so I'll go back and look for dead links. I just noticed that several of the menu choices didn't work this morning. I'm sure you'll get it together.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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Given the economic arguament, where any diamonds are traded for arms, to sell a diamond maintains the value. So, even legitimately sourced diamonds are doing harm where there are gaps in security. It is for this reason that we say conflict-neutral rather than conflict-free. Can you call any diamond truly conflict free? I don't think so. So if a diamond is bought from our site at least the consumer is not lulled in to a false sense of security about the impact of their purchace.

 

Martin

 

This argument is specious. Weapons are sold for cash or anything of value. Should we then avoid ‘conflict cash’ in the form of bills that may have passed through the hands of criminals? It wasn’t the diamonds, the bills, the pills, or the oil that committed the offences in West Africa, it was, and in some cases still is, evil men with guns and machetes who were largely supported by their own governments. I agree with your comment earlier that the problem is largely a political one and an effective solution will be political as well.

 

Neil

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I know this will get me in trouble, and I assume that Martin has the best of intentions here, but the pessimist in me has to say something..

 

It really looks like you are trying very hard to take advantage of the current blood diamond fad (and it is a fad - soon enough then next global "oh no we have to do something to help" will replace it) in an effort to sell more jewelry.. It's even in your domain name.. And while I agree that working towards a conflict free solution is a good thing, to turn around and use it as a marketing ploy seems somewhat suspect to me..

 

And for the record, not one single customer of ours has ever asked if our diamonds were conflict free.. It simply isn't an issue where we are.. Just like no one asks if something was made used using drug money, or tennis shoes were made using child labor..

 

Oh, one last thing.. Your website is currently in violation of of UK law regarding websites and full legal disclosure.. The laws changed on Jan 1, 2007 and you are missing a few things.. Perhaps you should contact your design company and get those issues resolved..

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Hi, Thank you for the pointer on the legal issue. What information do we require to post? I would appreciate any information. Perhaps you could email me through here or at the contact in our website?

 

A few points though. In these countries, particularly Sierra Leone, diamonds are the only valuable commodity available so they fund the country. Thats the good and the bad. Because diamonds are valuable and the countries are volatile and law enforcement is weak more bad happens than is acceptable. (I'm sure diamonds are traded for small arms across the globe on a very small scale). It is irrefutable that a great deal of harm has been done by the guns bought illegally with diamonds. It is also irrefutable that strictly speaking, to say "This diamond is conflict free" might be true but it is impossible to prove, therefore to make the statement is wrong as it misleads consumers.

 

What we are seeking to do is to take a different approach and accept that we ourselves cannot stop the illegal trade in diamonds; that is up to the politicians. What we can do is help to fund those who might actually do some good. For lower value goods like trainers stopping the trade by legitemising sources is more feasable. As for that conflict diamonds are not an issue where you are; I don't think that is the problem. I think it is more that it is an issue in countries like Sierra Leone and your consumers just trust you for the reputation you have probably deservedly built up.

 

There are many other problems in the world and if we spark a new approach to tackle these then I am over the moon.

 

And yes our name has high impact but how can we make donations if we do not make sales.

 

Martin

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I don’t disagree that ‘conflict free’ is a poorly crafted term. I’m not sold that ‘conflict neutral’ is any better but I don’t really have a better suggestion for you. ‘Kimberley Process compliant’ is more accurate but meaningless to 99% of the people who might hear it without resorting to a lengthy explanation. In the end, the meaning of ‘conflict free’ seems to be reasonably well understood and relatively accurate, even if it is a bit imprecise.

 

Buying weapons with diamonds, cash or anything else that facilitates the transaction is not inherently the problem. This is not the right venue to get into the merits or demerits of individual armament but I think we can agree that militias and armies are far more effective when they’re armed and that effective armies do have a value. The question then becomes one of restricting weaponry, or certain weaponry, to the armies of the good guys. This balance happens differently in different places. Many people criticize the United States because both our citizens and our criminals are comparatively well armed. People get shot here with an alarming frequency. The military, on the other hand, uses a very different arsenal and the arms they employ are highly restricted. Someone dropping a bomb from an airplane (for example) is extremely unusual indeed. This results in a weird balance that mostly seems to work. Mass murder of the style that happened regularly in Sierra Leone in the 1990s has been extraordinarily rare here for at least the last century or so.

 

In West Africa, and many other places, the politics are very different. The difference between government troops, citizen militias, criminal gangs and enemy soldiers is both remarkably subtle and ever changing. For an individual citizen, this distinction may very well be a purely academic one. Murder with a club or a machete is no less of a crime than murder with a gun and the fact that it is possible to do it on a large scale speaks to a problem far deeper than diamonds. How they paid for the club or what they hoped to steal from the victims are both important elements to examine in trying to work out a solution but they are not the roots of the issue. Blaming the victims because they had something worth stealing is like blaming a rape victim for being pretty. Blaming the diamonds because that’s what the murderers want to steal is no better.

 

I guess we have to agree to disagree on the issue of whether the name and marketing of your company is exploiting the misery of others to pursue a profit and that this will be up to your shoppers to decide. Exploitation of this issue for a profit is certainly what Hollywood as done and it’s not completely out of the question that raising the public interest in it may actually help. Personally, I just think it will cause the criminals to move on to something else that they can use for the same purpose. AIDS drugs comes to mind.

 

Neil

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I don't disagree that there are problems the world over when it comes to diamonds.. But the same can be said for the clothing industry among many others.. The problem in Africa though is not the diamonds.. It's the people.. And taking away the diamonds from the equation will simply force them to use something else..

 

I do think that using "Blood-Diamonds" as your domain name is exploitive in itself and that trying to cover that up with a small donation to a charity isn't enough to make me think that it's ok.. I see it as a pure marketting gimick and not an alltruistic attempt to do good in Africa.. You could have just as easily run the same program of donations through your original trade name rather than trying to capitalize on the current blood diamonds media blitz.. You even went as far as to create a company with that name Blood Diamond Ltd. and registered the new domain on 23-Dec-2006..

 

But like I said, I'm a pessimist when it comes to people in general..

 

And I see you have already started to resolve the legal issues you had on your site.. Good work on that..

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