Every rough diamond shipment now has a ‘passport’ to travel the world. This ensures that it is conflict-free. It also means that the diamonds which you sell are legitimate.

What is a conflict / blood diamond?

Conflict diamonds are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to help finance conflict against legitimate governments.

Although the conflict diamond issue affects the polished diamond market, conflict diamonds are essentially a rough diamond issue that is being dealt with effectively and comprehensively by the rough diamond industry with the United Nations, governments and human rights groups.

The Passport to Legitimate Diamond Trade

There has been much talk in the press about conflict diamonds. While there is currently no scientific way to identify where diamonds have come from, the diamond industry has set up a safety net to guarantee that no conflict diamonds reach you or your customer.

It is vital to the diamond industry, and to diamond-producing countries, to ensure that the diamonds that come from the mines, via the cutters and the manufacturer, to you are legitimate. The economies of some countries – and the livelihood of millions of people depend on this.

Concerted effort

As a result, everyone with an interest in diamonds, including the United Nations, human rights organisations and many governments, have signed up to a scheme dedicated to keep the diamond industry free from conflict diamonds.

Every country that produces or manufactures diamonds must provide a certificate ensuring that their diamonds are legitimate. Countries that don’t are excluded from the international diamond trade.

This article covers the following areas:

  1. What are conflict diamonds?
  2. How can I tell if I have one?
  3. Where do they come from?
  4. Is there a link between conflict diamonds and terrorism?
  5. What is being done about conflict diamonds?
  6. Will diamond jewellery come with a certificate?
  7. What about older diamonds – are they conflict free?
  8. Where do I look for more information?

What are conflict diamonds?

They are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.

How can I tell if I have one?

It isn’t possible to identify a conflict diamond just by looking at it. Some types of rough diamond have recognisable physical properties, which might make it possible to identify the source if a large amount of rough from that source was available.

Where do they come from?

Rebels in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo were using resources – such as rough diamonds – to fund wars against the governments of those countries. Now these countries are free from civil war and are rebuilding themselves.

Is there a link between conflict diamonds and terrorism?

The US State Department says there is no intelligence evidence to show that a link exists.

What is being done about conflict diamonds?

Everyone in the diamond industry combined to set up a scheme to prevent conflict diamonds filtering into legitimate diamond trade.

After two years of negotiations, they endorsed the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) on 5 November 2002.

These are the groups that took part:

  • 52 diamond producing, processing and consuming countries
  • United Nations
  • Non-governmental organisations, such as Global Witness and USAID
  • World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB)
  • International Diamond Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA)
  • De Beers Group

The scheme has established an audit trail between all countries that import and export diamonds. Every rough diamond shipment must have a ‘passport’ – a certificate of origin – to travel the world.

This means that every diamond polisher or jewellery manufacturer can be sure that the diamonds they are selling are from legitimate sources and are conflict-free.

Will diamond jewellery come with a certificate?

No. The Kimberley Process ensures that diamond imports and exports are conflict-free. Illegal rough diamonds can’t enter the jewellery chain for polishing and manufacture. Thanks to the effectiveness of the safety net, we don’t need certificates for jewellery.

What about older diamonds – are they conflict-free?

The issue of conflict diamonds came to the world’s attention in late 1998. Talks had broken down between the Angolan government and the rebel movement UNITA, and UNITA began using the sale of natural resources such as timber and rough diamonds to fund their activities.

The United Nations acted immediately by imposing sanctions on UNITA, including the sale of rough diamonds from mining areas under their control. The diamond industry helped the UN to ensure the effectiveness of the sanctions.

There was a small window of opportunity – between talks breaking down and the UN sanctions beginning – for some conflict diamonds to slip onto the market. But from that moment onwards, the diamond industry began to eradicate illegal diamonds.

This culminated in the forming of the Kimberley Process, which guarantees that rough diamonds are conflict-free.

Where do I look for more information?

If you would like more information on conflict diamonds, here are some websites: