Made In The U.S.A.

So you wanna buy a diamond.

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2009 at 12:31 am

So you wanna buy a diamond. Be prepared. It’s not easy.

It hits you somewhere around a month or two into your year-long buying-American adventure: damn. I want to buy a diamond.

Diamonds aren’t really MITUSA. Let’s just get that right out in the open. Technically some come from Arkansas, but we’re talking the occasional random diamond–not actually the diamonds that go into engagement rings and necklaces and earrings. Think of it like coffee or bananas; there might technically be some American-made, but 99.9% of them come from other countries.

So the first thing you do if you’re trying to buy American-made diamonds is you get that thought right out of your head. Next option? Buying conscientiously.

The Leonardo DiCaprio movie Blood Diamond created a ____storm of controversy when it came out a few years ago. It shed light onto the problem of blood diamonds–or diamonds that are mined by slave labor, smuggled out of Africa to wind up in American jewelry. The funds for the smuggled diamonds fund civil wars and make bad people rich and keep poor people oppressed. Generally, they are awful.

The good news is that the movie shed a lot of light on the problem, and suddenly consumers started demanding diamonds that aren’t mined by slaves. The industry instituted a certification process known as Kimberley Certification–presumably named for the very large diamond mine in Africa of the same name. The way it works? Mines are certified and pledge to adhere to a system that makes it hard to tamper with shipments and merge smuggled diamonds into the legitimate workflow. This is sort of the minimum reassurance that a diamond isn’t tainted.

The best reassurance? A birth certificate. In that case, a diamond is catalogued and certified when it comes out of the ground, and that paperwork travels with the diamond all the way across the globe to the consumer in the jewelry store. As I understand it, it includes a photograph of the rough diamond as well as the finished cut stone. Pretty cool. Pretty reassuring.

The other option to ensure your diamond wasn’t mined by a slave is to buy a diamond from the other major diamond exporter–Canada. Our neighbors to the north aren’t fighting a bloody civil war or utilizing slave labor in their mines. So an equivalent to the Kimberly certification is a certified Canadian diamond. Another easy and viable option to ensure that you aren’t buying blood diamonds.

When you start out researching how to buy a diamond, you quickly learn about these conscientious alternatives to ensure the origin of your diamond. You read that it won’t be a problem to find them, nor will you pay a premium. Unfortunately, in practice the process works much different. More on that tomorrow.

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