Matt Runci, former head of Jewelers of America and the Responsible Jewelry Counsel, at a World Bank conference. Both organizations have fully supported the ineffective Kimberley Certification Process which deceives consumers into believing that the diamond trade is "conflict free."
I remember when the film, Blood Diamonds came out in 2006. I was attending the major jewelry trade show, a posh affair at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. Assisting me in my booth was an employee who had emigrated from Guatemala. On his breaks, he was reading a collection of essays by Che Guevara.
I did very little diamond business at that time in my company. Yet I was shocked to learn how three million people had been killed. I was contemplating, at the time, how many people in at the trade show were complicit in this crime, walking around, enjoying their trade show gatherings, and doing business as usual. To some degree, everyone who sold jewelry was partly responsible. At that time, the jewelry sector was in a panic over whether customers would be concerned. The film ultimately did not impact diamond sales.
There were a few jewelers that were concerned, and ultimately the Blood Diamond film was the beginning of an ethical jewelry movement. Yet, no one from the diamond sector has ever been charged or held responsible for the previous or current human rights atrocities associated with the diamond trade. The Kimberley Certification Scheme was created ostensibly to prevent blood diamonds, but in fact it has become merely a marketing arm of the diamond sector, allowing illegal diamond trading to continue, as it has in the past, just as corrupt as ever. The difference is that jewelers can now have more backing when they lie about how they are selling “conflict free diamonds.”
What I’ve said here is merely prologue. I have said it before many times, and so have others. Most recently, however, my experience in 2006 was reconfirmed by a revelation on the misconduct of diamond merchants located in the United States based upon a report by none other than diamond analyst Chaim Ivan Zohar, author of Diamond Intelligence Briefs (DIB). For those who do not know Zohar, he is considered a heavy weight journalist, authority and insider on diamond trading issues.
Zohar article exposes loopholes and a slack security system allow money laundering. Quoting: “If one really wants to use the KPCS (Kimberley Process Certification System) to launder money or to move conflict diamonds onto the market, it is an open secret that one of the easiest ways to do so is through the US.”
DIB is a subscription based publication. Here is a link to an article that reports on Zohar’s findings in the UK Sunday Mail.
I had not consider the US at the center of corrupt diamond trading. I had thought it was through India, based upon the investigative reporting in this article in Foreign Policy. However, this news merely confirmed that the diamond sector (outside of the small scale diggers making a dollar or two a day) is replete with sociopaths and the corruption is even systemic than most had imagined… Anyone who has been following diamond issues closely should be surprised about this. What surprising is that the revelations are coming even from industry insiders.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the public and jewelers continue to ignore issues like this, and the diamond selling party goes on. Fortunately, for customers who care, it is possible to bypass the US diamond trade and work directly with companies that sell ethical diamonds, either recycled or directly from Canada.