Are you buying a blood diamond?

Are you buying a blood diamond?

Blood diamonds are also known as conflict diamonds. They are sold cheap to fund unlawful and illegal operations of rebel, military and terrorist groups in Africa. The countries which have been most affected by these sales include Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To keep a check on penetration of these conflict diamonds in any country, 54 countries, including India - the world's largest processor of diamonds - had in 2003 endorsed a UN initiative called the Kimberley certification process that certifies the country of origin to prove that the diamonds do not come from these conflict areas.

The best way to check the origin of a diamond is testing. Diamonds from different mines have different chemical compositions, as revealed by the test. But it is a very expensive process.

"Diamond testing is a very expensive process. It becomes very difficult to check each and every diamond. So generally diamond merchants shy away from going through the process," Mumbai-based diamond merchant Vishal Gupta, owner of Jewel Palace, said.

Cygnus's Fine Jewellery chairperson Mitesh Gajera feels that active consumer participation and involvement is also very important to bring in the change.

"As consumers we have the power to change by demanding details about the diamonds we buy. Demanding proof that a diamond is conflict-free sends a powerful message to the world that we will not support an industry or nation that helps fund terror groups.

Change won't happen overnight, but it will happen if we are persistent," said Gajera.
Gupta, whose family is in this business for three generations, explained that it ran on trust.

"Most of us buy diamonds from someone we know and trust. We have been buying from our regular source for ages. This is how we work. One can't just think of putting each diamond under test... it's impossible," he added.

Leonardo DiCaprio starrer "Blood Diamond" showed how rebels would enslave people to work in the diamond mines while children were conscripted into the rebel forces.

The movie did its bid to bring awareness about this trade. But Tanishq's design head Sangeeta Dewan feels that apart from awareness, one should know how to resist temptation as well.

"When you are offered a solitaire or diamonds much cheaper, chances are that you will give in to the temptation and buy it." That is the psychology sellers of blood diamonds use.