We subscribe to the Kimberley Process which we believe offers the best solution to the issue of 'Conflict Diamonds'.
We require our suppliers to ensure that the diamonds supplied to us have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. They must guarantee that the diamonds are conflict-free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by their supplier.
How does the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme work?
The World Diamond Council has worked with the United Nations, government bodies, commercial interests and civil society to introduce a workable system for the certification of the source of uncut diamonds. This system, known as the Kimberley Process, was formally adopted in November 2002 and came into operation on 1 January 2003. The European Union regulations enforcing the Kimberley Process came fully into force on 13 February 2003. It operates on two fronts: -
i. Rough stones. Every parcel will be numbered, tamper-free and accompanied by a certificate with the country of origin and other details.
ii. Polished stones and jewellery. At the World Diamond Congress in London in October, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association agreed to instruct its members to give assurances that all diamonds sold by them (rough, cut and in finished goods) are conflict free.
We wrote to our diamond suppliers in 2003 requiring an undertaking that we require them to supply us with merchandise that complies with the Kimberley Process and to make the following promise:
"I confirm that, to the best of our knowledge and in accordance with the Kimberley process, we do not supply any diamonds to Francis Wain Jewellers as part of finished jewellery items or in any other form which come from countries or regions in which there is war or other conflict in progress and where the sale of such diamonds may be believed to be contributing to the continuation of the conflict or its scale. I will confirm this on each invoice as required by the Kimberley process but also warrant that it is the case regardless of whether such confirmation is present."
All new suppliers are required to sign the same undertaking.
It is hoped that the Kimberley process will reduce the flow of conflict diamonds by 80-90%, which mean that they would represent less than 1% of world production.
We support all practical moves to eliminate conflict diamonds and we will only use suppliers that are responsible and can confirm that the diamonds they supply are in accordance with the Kimberley process.
We do not support blanket boycotts of the type suggested in some quarters. These could irreparably damage many people's livelihoods, especially in Africa and India. In Namibia, diamonds are the largest industry and account for 40% of foreign exchange earnings. In Botswana they account for 75% of all such earnings and a third of the country's total GDP. These are not rich countries in Western terms and they rely heavily on the diamond industry. Many have major issues affecting their future such as AIDS. Such legitimate countries are estimated to represent at least 96% of total diamond production. There are also an estimated 700,000 diamond cutters in India, a very poor country in terms of wealth per capita, and the diamonds cut there are almost predominantly the smaller, lower value stones it would be difficult to track and impractical to certificate.
We feel that this is a responsible way to proceed. We do not want to help to prolong conflicts in any way, but we also do not want to share any responsibility for potentially putting millions of people across the world's livelihoods at risk.
If you have any further queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at our Head Office address.
What is the History?
There has been coverage in the media of so called "conflict diamonds", namely diamonds mined in countries involved in civil war or other conflicts, some of which are mined in areas controlled by one of the participants and are believed to help finance the conflict. They generally leak onto the world markets through unofficial channels and become mixed with those from the main producing countries. It is very important that this trade is stopped.
Like almost all retailers, the vast majority of the diamonds we sell come from the main diamond producing countries of South Africa, Russia and Botswana as well as Australia, Namibia and Canada. However many other countries also have deposits. These include states where there have been major conflicts such as Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone but also small producers such as Venezuela, Guyana and Ghana that usually have no such ethical problems. These are often poor countries with small economies that rely heavily on diamonds for crucial foreign income. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some formerly conflict affected countries (such as Angola) will need to make use of their natural resources if they are to successfully carry out the rebuilding that their people so desperately require.
What are the Solutions?
While it is clearly undesirable that diamonds from affected countries may be helping to exacerbate conflict, the problem for those down the line is identification. These diamonds constitute a very small proportion of those mined around the world (estimates suggest it peaked at around 4%) as they not only come from minor producers, but also these countries are generally mining below their capacity due to their political situation.
Schemes involving the certification of individual stones are unworkable due to the difficulty of identifying each stone and the cost of certification for the large number of small, lower value stones. Also, such schemes would also taint all of the diamonds without certificates already in circulation - such as the stone in the heir loom left by a grandmother - when the overwhelming majority of these have no connection with conflict diamonds.
We also believe that it is crucial that the scheme does not impact on fair trade in diamonds. Many of the countries involved in mining and cutting diamonds have low per capita incomes and millions of people rely on this legitimate trade for their livelihood.
We therefore strongly believe that the Kimberley Process offers the best solution at present, because it is strict yet workable. This is because it is a more general system that requires those involved in the chain to certify that they only supply conflict free diamonds.