Human rights and environmental protection play into many mining practices, including those involving diamonds. Many people opt for conflict-free versions of the gemstones when purchasing jewelry to avoid endorsing questionable practices. Here’s what you should know to make an informed, ethically-sound decision.
A Guide to Conflict-Free Diamonds
What does “conflict-free” mean?
Conflict-free diamonds are those mined and distributed without connections to illegal, cruel practices. In the 1990s and early 2000s, gemstones were often illegally traded in war-ridden areas of central and western Africa, such as the civil war in Sierra Leone.
To combat human rights violations and environmental destruction, South African leaders outlined ethical mining practices in conjunction with the United Nations, European Union, and World Diamond Council. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) resulted, gaining members in over 80 countries who agreed to source gemstones without the potential for violence.
How will I know the gemstone is conflict-free?
The Kimberley Process certificate accompanies all diamonds mined without conflict. Certificates provide information about each gemstone’s origin, including how it was mined, where it was cut and burnished, and where it will be shipped. Members of the KPCS, such as the United States, Mexico, and the Russian Federation, can’t legally trade with non-members.
Is there a difference between ethically-sourced and conflict-free gems?
While both conflict-free and ethically-sourced diamonds support ethical mining practices, some jewelers are more dedicated to honorable methods than others. For example, there are jewelers who buy from artisanal miners in Africa.
These miners oversee smaller productions and may not use equipment that protects the environment due to a lack of funds and resources. They might even rely on child labor. Diligent research remains the best way to make certain the gemstone was sourced using the highest ethical standards.
Are other ethical alternatives available?
Conflict-free engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made with sapphires, rubies, pearls, emeralds, and amethysts provide ethical alternatives. Another option involves restoring antique and vintage diamond jewelry so that it sparkles again and doesn’t involve mining, environmental damage, or human rights violations.
If you’re interested in purchasing conflict-free diamonds, contact Somos Designer Jewelry Gallery. The jewelry center has served the Hudson Valley and Rockland County areas of New York since 1979 and manufactures 90% of their inventory. Jewelry repair, re-design, and restoration services are also available. Call (845) 348-0800 today with questions, or browse pieces online.