Naomi Campbell, Blood Diamonds and Conflict-Free Jewelry


There may be no more salacious story right now than the news that Mia Farrow and Naomi Campbell are testifying at the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor.  Normally, “supermodel” and “war crimes” aren’t used in the same sentence.  Though it’s tempting to let the glitz overwhelm the the facts of this story, the fact that Naomi Campbell received a blood diamond and allegedly lied about it is pretty big news.   The blood diamond trade is pretty unsettling stuff:

“A blood diamond, also referred to as a conflict or war diamond, is a diamond sold to finance terrorism or other violent acts including civil war. The blood diamond trade has been recognized as a global problem, with terrorist organizations in a wide range of nations benefiting from the trade of these diamonds. The blood diamond problem is most severe in Africa, where several nations including Liberia, Angola, and Sierra Leone have been affected, leading organizations such as the United Nations to enact resolutions to combat the sale of blood diamonds.

Without getting too graphic, it’s led to a lot of violence. So any diamond received via this trade is connected to a very violent mob-like enterprise.  Keep that in mind when reading about the trial, because names like Naomi Campbell and Mia Farrow could have the tendency to overwhelm what this story is all about. 

Where to Buy Diamonds

If you’re in the market to buy a diamond, you may be concerned that it’s not part of the Conflict Diamond racket.  The way to do this is to ask the distributor where a diamond originated.  The Kimberley Process Goals aims to halt the trade and ensure that diamonds are totally legit:

“The goals of the Kimberley Process are to document and track all rough diamonds entering a participating country, with shippers placing stones in tamper-proof shipping crates and providing enough detailed information about their origins to prove they did not originate in a conflict zone.

The KPCS isn’t fully operational among its members — probably normal for an agreement that involves the cooperation of dozens of governments and non-governmental agencies. Many countries haven’t even committed to the program.”

It’s not a fool-proof system, however, so it is up to the consumer to do some amount of investigative work.  Blue Nile and James Allen are two retailers who have posted their ethical sourcing policies on their sites.  On the other hand, Naomi Campbell would have been pretty certain where her diamond originated.  That she wasn’t concerned about this doesn’t reflect too well on her, which is why she (allegedly) lied about receiving the diamond.  If nothing else, this trial is bringing this issue to the forefront and should remind consumers that they need to be careful.

How important is making sure your bling contains only conflict-free diamonds?  Do you research retailer to ensure they follow the Kimberly Process?

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