The story of blood diamonds is basically pretty simple, but just the term blood diamonds brings up horrendous images of people who have been subjected to unthinkable acts forced on them by their own countrymen. I am going to use the term, blood diamonds, in order to refer to diamonds brought to market during the bloody civil war that occurred in Sierra Leone throughout the 90’s and that finally came to an end in 2002. The amount of blood diamonds produced during this period was a relatively small amount in comparison to total world production but it was enough to be a part of the funding for the rebels.
a bit of background…
I will simplify the story a bit in order to give some background to what led up to this unhappy period of the human race. Sierra Leone was a British colony that obtained independence in the early 60’s. Sierra Leone started off on its self-reliance pretty well, because it had a relatively great infrastructure and it had already been mining diamonds since the 1930’s. In the past due 60’s, a prime minister by name of Siaka Stevens came into office. He proceeded to run the nation into the ground until he great successor were finally out of workplace by 1992. It was in the past due 80’s and early 90’s that this anti-government group, the ruf, has been formed. For the next 4 many years, there was an ineffectual string of corrupt military people running the nation. It was during this period that the ruf moved into the diamond producing area of eastern Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s diamond jewelry are alluvial in nature… Alluvial diamonds are deposits of expensive diamonds found in lowlands areas, in older river beds, in the beds associated with streams and shallow rivers. Gemstones are formed deep in the planet and come to the surface by way of scenic eruptions and the resulting mountain of cooled lava ends up being eroded away by rain. The gemstone rough is washed away and ends up in alluvial deposits. Most alluvial diamonds are usually found between a few feet to 20 feet below the surface. Relatively little capital and only basic technology (shovels, sieves, plus muscles) are required to mine alluvial expensive diamonds. These alluvial diamond mining locations are easily controlled by armed thugs.
In 1995, a group of “gunslingers” through south Africa, called executive outcomes, had been hired and they cleaned up the issue of the ruf being in the diamond fields. The un stepped in, elections were held in 1996, and a former un official, Ahmad Tejan Kebbah, was elected the newest president. Executive outcomes was asked to leave and in short order, the diamond producing area of Kono was again taken over by the ruf.
A horrible period in history!
it was at this point that the ruf began the horrendous act of cutting off people’s hands!!!! Why?… Because they had voted during the recent election! Amputations were designed to terrorize the population and it has been very effective. It wasn’t however a good action directly related to the gemstone mining operations. It is the image of these brutal acts that has been forever linked to “blood diamonds”.
During the following 6 year period, the ruf teamed up with another thug, Charles Taylor, who was pillaging Sierra Leone’s across the street neighbor, Liberia. Together the 2 groupings were interested in power and would kill or terrorize anyone who got in their way. Blood diamonds has been part of their economic and terror campaign. It finally came to the head, after the ruf had get freetown and went on a nightmarish killing spree. The British then sent commandos into Sierra Leone to settle the situation in 2002.
The individuals of Sierra Leone are trying to move on but…
people became aware of the blood diamond situation, they required action, the civil war ended in 2002 and now the people associated with Sierra Leone have moved on and therefore are trying to rebuild their country. A significant funding source of their rebuilding efforts comes from the money brought in from diamond mining.
There are people in the jewelry business who are trying to make the scenario better for everyone… Most notably, martin rapaport. There are 2 videos embedded upon my website that explain some of the actions that are beginning to take place.
Becoming politically correct is never recommended…
there are people who are not helping the problem of the Africans trying to modernize their own countries. Some politically correct individuals, the “blood diamond Nazis”, are usually railing against the concept of anyone purchasing or owning a diamond because within their minds they see horrible atrocities every time that they look at any expensive diamonds, they see “blood diamonds”. It offers become their mission to spread the word by disseminating out dated information that are not correct and it is these “facts” that do a lot of harm to the particular millions of people in these emerging countries. These “blood diamond Nazis” will not relax until everyone stops purchasing plus wearing diamonds. They are ultimately hurting the Africans that they claim these are trying to help.
There are some suppliers of diamonds and diamond simulants that are taking advantage of everyone’s disdain of the idea of blood diamonds by promoting the truth that it is their products that are the alternative in order to blood diamonds… Most notably the people which sell diamond simulants (cubic zirconia or moissanite) or who sell “ethical diamonds” from regions apart from africa. In addition , there are some organizations that will still want to keep the idea of bloodstream diamonds alive in people’s minds… They do this mostly for account raising purposes-
— “you will help put a stop to blood diamonds by submitting your donation now!? ”
— “attention webmasters!, make a donation to the effort and you can put this “stop blood diamonds! ” Logo on the website to show your visitors that you actually care about the people of sierra Leone! ”
When you go to these groups’ internet sites… Their “up to date” guide material about blood diamonds is usually from 1998 to 2001 and some of the information even dates back in order to 1982.
It is unbelievable that some people are using images of sierra Leone amputees to promote buying Canadian “ethical diamonds”, or to promote buying diamond stimulants, or used for fund raising purposes. Anytime you see these pictures be aware that these people are trying to manipulate a person at the same time that they are helping only on their own and not helping the people in the pictures! These people, the “not for profit” ngos and the for profit businesses, they want you to believe that there is presently a blood bath going on in parts of Africa and this situation can totally be blamed on discord diamonds. I have never seen a photo or a video of, or heard a report about a piece of diamond rough picking up a rifle and killing someone. People did all of these terrible things to other people.
Where do we go from here?
Sierra Leone’s war is over, sierra Leone’s blood expensive diamonds are in the past. The amount of “conflict diamonds” only accounts for 0. 02% of yearly worldwide diamond production… This could make it extremely unlikely that a person would ever encounter a conflict diamond! If you looked at one diamond a day, every single day, it would take 13. 7 years before you would come across the conflict diamond… I guess it’s about the same chance of getting struck by super!
Today, the African people need the rest of the world to look at diamonds as things of beauty and for individuals to feel good about diamonds! To motivate people to not buy any expensive diamonds or to discriminate against African gemstones in favor of “ethical diamonds” from non-African countries does not help the people in Africa build hospitals, roads, and schools.
Several years ago, I had the recognize of hearing a speech from Erkki Nghimtina, Namibian minister associated with mines and energy. I referred back to my notes, along with some informational handouts from the speech… Here is the African’s current view from the diamond trade-
“Every diamond not purchased is a missed chance with regard to Africa – a missed opportunity to send more children to school, build more clinics and private hospitals, and continue the fight against hiv/aids. Our challenge is to work together in order to strengthen the continent’s diamond business so that we can better provide for our people, enabling us all to share a brighter future. ”
Bud Boland has been in the jewelry business to get 40 years and has done everything from watchmaking, diamond setting, jewelry making, and has already been a Gemologist for nearly 35 yrs. He is a Graduate Gemologist from GIA, which is also the place where he was a Resident Diamond Instructor. He has trained about diamonds to hundreds of students from all around the world. He is presently committed to producing the only diamond buying guide anyone would ever need… unbiased advice from inside of the jewelry business
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