The diamond, undoubtedly, is one of the most beautiful and precious gems in the world. Its bright sparkle, intense fire, and superb hardness have made it a stuff of legends. Ancient civilisations believe that the stone grants them power, courage, and invincibility. Couples in love regard the diamond as the ultimate shining representation of their love and devotion to each other. Socialites and celebrities wear beautiful diamond jewellery to showcase their position of power and wealth.
It is no wonder then that the diamond is worth a huge sum of money. And this is where a huge problem lies. You see, in war zones such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Congo, diamonds are mined and sold to jewellers. The proceeds are then used to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s efforts in subduing another country, or the activities of a warlord. These diamonds, called blood diamonds or conflict diamonds, are typically mined in Africa, a diamond-rich continent. Obviously, mining, exportation, and selling of blood diamonds is illegal.
Decades ago, unscrupulous people were able to smuggle blood diamonds out of the continent by mixing them with a shipment of legally mined and sold diamonds, shipping them out through a courier, or by some other means. Little did these people know that they were under investigation by the United Nations (UN). Then in March 2003, UN investigators forwarded the Fowler Report, revealing in surprising detail how the movement and trade of blood diamonds in the international market are carried out.
Appalled by the seriousness of the situation as shown in the report, the UN decided to clamp down this illegal trade. The Fowler Report was then sent to countries, businesses, governments, even individuals involved in the diamond trade. The entities share the UN’s sentiment, and a meeting of South African diamond-producing states was held in Kimberley.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was born from this historic meeting. The KPCS is a special process that is designed to thwart blood diamonds from penetrating the legal, mainstream rough diamond market. It is aimed to insure that the proceeds from diamond purchases are not used to finance rebel movements and allies that are doing efforts to destablilise and undermine governments.
The individual processes that govern the KPCS are complex. Here are its three important points in a nutshell:
• A country applying for membership in the Kimberly Process must ensure that any diamond originating from it must not be sold to finance an entity who is aiming to overthrow a UN-recognised government.
• Every diamond shipment or export must have a forgery-resistant Kimberly Process certificate. The certificate must have its own unique number along with a detailed description of the content.
• Diamonds from a KPCS-member country must not be imported from or exported to a non-member.
• Diamond shipments must be kept and transported in a tamper-resistant container.
Furthermore, KPCS-member countries and companies adopted their own self-regulation laws that are sanctioned and in harmony with KPCS such as:
• Diamonds must be traded only with companies that include warranty declarations in their sales invoices.
• Diamonds must not be bought from unknown or suspicious suppliers.
• Diamonds must not come from sources that, after signing a KPCS legal agreement, are found to have violated such rules in the agreement.
• Diamonds must not be purchased from any region that is subject to a negative government-issued advisory regarding a possible blood-diamond trade.
• Companies must not knowingly buy, sell, or assist others in the trade of conflict diamonds.
Thus, before buying that precious diamond ring, ask your jeweller if it is KPCS certified. By doing so, you’re helping quell worldwide violence.