How to be sure your diamond is ethical

When you’re selecting a ring consistent with your values, there are a few ways to ensure that your diamond has been ethically sourced without compromising quality. In recent years, consumers and the industry have become more educated on ‘conflict diamonds’. With this in mind, it is still important to understand what a ‘conflict diamond’ is and how to be absolutely certain that you’re not buying one.

What are Conflict Diamonds?

The United Nations define Conflict or Blood Diamonds as “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments.”

Conflict free diamonds

Sourcing such diamonds is related to the use of child labor, regional conflicts, war crimes and general unfair working conditions. In the 1990s conflict diamonds accounted for about 4% of the international supply. Since the adoption of the Kimberley Process Certification System in 2003 – less than 1% of the world’s diamonds are now conflict to introduce barriers against such diamonds.

How can you tell if a Diamond is Ethically-Sourced?

There are strict labor and environmental standards for a diamond to be considered as ethically-sourced. Fair wages and safe working conditions must be met. Child labor should not be used. Mining companies must implement rigorous practices that protect local ecosystems. Currently, the safest countries for sourcing conflict-free diamonds are Botswana, Namibia, Russia, South Africa and Canada.

Are Ethically-Sourced Diamonds the Same Quality?

Diamonds that are ethically sourced meet the highest labor and environmental standards. They are also of exceptional quality. That being said, it is important to understand that the quality of each diamond depends on a set of characteristics such as cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Diamonds greater than 0.30 carats, need to be assessed by an independent gem lab.

Are Ethically-sourced Diamonds Easy to Find?

Today, retailers offer a broad selection of ethically-sourced diamonds through verified suppliers. Most online stores stock inventory of high quality Canadian. South African, Russian, Namibian and Botswana diamonds in popular shapes and sizes. These countries are verifiable sources of diamond mines, where responsible labor and environmental practices are in place. Diamond retailers should display an official written policy on ethical sourcing for their customers. Part of their company policies should be being able to identify where their diamonds are mined. Lack of information on any of these topics is enough to raise red flags.

How to be sure a Diamond Meets the Highest Ethical Standards?

The Kimberley Process Certification is the most widely accepted method of regulating the diamond trade. Clients should shop from retailers who disclose information on their supply chains and diamond sources. Also, they must be willing to provide a guarantee in written form on labor and environmental standards at the mines they source from.

Kimberley Process

Kimberley Process logo (PRNewsFoto/Kimberley Process)

Large numbers of diamonds marketed as conflict-free are not ethically-sourced. In addition to this, international diamond certification schemes are vulnerable to fraud. As there is no global system for reliable verification of a diamond’s ethical origins, consumers should rely on a combination of the Kimberley Process Certification and System of Warranties for the gem they are buying.

Shopping for engagement and wedding with knowledge of how to identify ethically-sourced diamonds is the first step of the process. Retailers should be willing to answer all questions you may have, and demonstrate policies in place that guarantee their diamonds are conflict-free. Choosing ethically-sourced diamonds benefits consumers, brands, workers and the environment alike. It fosters responsible, sustainable practices in the industry. Ultimately, cultivating a more ethical, transparent, and sustainable jewelry industry is a joint responsibility of consumers, suppliers and retailers.