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The Diamond Industry

The diamond industry opposed stringent government regulation when the Kimberley Process diamond certification scheme was being negotiated ten years ago, and the trade was largely left to police itself. Companies committed to put in place a system of self-regulation to help combat blood diamonds and to support the government-led scheme.

The limits of the Kimberley Process – the certification only covers rough, uncut diamonds – meant that industry initiatives were sorely needed to ensure oversight of the entire diamond supply chain, including the trade in polished stones. But twelve years after the blood diamond issue came to international attention, the industry has failed to meaningfully change its practices.

Picture of diamonds

Global diamond trade bodies developed the ‘System of Warranties’, a voluntary industry scheme which encourages companies to place a statement on invoices declaring the enclosed diamonds to be conflict-free. But a statement simply assuring consumers that diamonds are not from conflict sources is meaningless unless it is backed up by measures to verify that the information is true.

Several retail surveys conducted by Global Witness and Amnesty International since the System of Warranties was implemented have revealed that most major jewellers in the UK and the US don’t have their diamond supply chain independently audited.

Global Witness is asking the industry to take the following steps to help close loopholes in the diamond supply chain and eradicate the trade in conflict stones:

  • Develop a comprehensive, auditable system to track diamonds from mine to point of sale, based on clear, measurable standards.
  • Make this system compulsory for membership in trade bodies, and enforce these rules.
  • Exercise due diligence in choosing suppliers: require proof that suppliers are only buying and selling diamonds that are conflict free and require suppliers to have independent auditing measures in place.
  • Publish their conflict diamond policy.
  • Work proactively with law enforcement agencies to expose those individuals and companies that are breaking the law.

How can I buy a clean diamond?

Due to the weaknesses in the Kimberley Process, and the lack of self-regulation by the diamond industry, it is still very difficult for consumers to know if they are buying a ‘clean’ diamond.

Global Witness encourages consumers to request detailed information from jewellers about their conflict diamond policy and sourcing practices. This will put pressure on the diamond industry to put in place transparent, responsible supply chains and send a strong message to the trade that diamond-fuelled violence will not be tolerated.

Consumers can compel retailers to do their bit by ensuring every link in the diamond supply chain is stringently checked from mine to shop floor. Questions consumers can ask include:

  • Do you know where the diamonds you sell come from? How do you know this?

  • Can I see a copy of your company's policy on conflict diamonds?

  • Can you show me a written guarantee from your suppliers that your diamonds are conflict-free?

  • How is your diamond supply chain audited? Are the audits carried out by independent third parties?

Global Witness and Amnesty International have produced a short guide on conflict diamonds for shoppers.

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