Conflict Free Doesn't Mean Squat... and That's Old News

Consumers have been given a false confidence about where their diamonds come from. This stops now
— IMPACT

A press release by IMPACT, a founding civil society member of the Kimberley Process, was issued last week regarding the group's departure from the Kimberley Process, stating that it "fails to produce any needed changes."  

We have come to the conclusion that the Kimberley Process has lost its will to be an effective mechanism for responsible diamond governance.

 

The press release, which can be read here, says a lot about the current state of the Kimberley Process and where it has failed to be successful. Reading the news, it's exciting to see another group leaving it (Global Witness left years ago for the same reason). But if I am being entirely honest, I  have to admit that the Kimberley Process being ineffective is old news. 

The Kimberley Process is a certification scheme that aims to "prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds." After it was developed in 2003, it gave countless stores the golden ticket to advertise that their diamonds are "conflict free and KP certified." This promise implied that the diamonds they sold were ethically mined, cut and traded and did not do any harm along the way. For most consumers, that checked the box in their head for "ethically sourced" and they were happy to move on without thinking twice about where their diamond actually came from.

If you are wondering what the Kimberley Process actually covers, it's simply this: The Kimberley Process certifies that conflict free diamonds were not used as rough diamonds by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments. 

While that may sound great, here's what the Kimberley Process does NOT cover:

  • forced labor
  • slavery
  • mass atrocities
  • violence/murder
  • corruption
  • tax evasion
  • displacement

.... to name a few. Since its creation, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme never provided solutions for some of these major and life threatening issues. When you consider all of these atrocities that are associated with diamonds,  the Kimberley Process does not sound like the be-all end-all solution that so many of us have been led to believe. These issues are the same issues that led IMPACT to announce their departure stating that "the internal controls that governments conform to, do not provide the evidence of traceability and due diligence needed to ensure a clean, conflict-free, and legal diamond supply chain. Consumers have been given a false confidence about where their diamonds come from. This stops now." 

It is for this reason that Emily Chelsea Jewelry does not stop at KP certified and conflict free labels. We aim to source post consumer, recycled, Australian or Canadian mined. And while those still aren't perfect solutions, we think it's a little bit better than stopping at the empty promise of KP certified. 

Creating change in the diamond industry is a process.  While it may feel a little late, IMPACT's announcement to leave the Kimberly Process is better than never and is a great next step in helping to create a more sustainable jewelry industry. Ignoring and avoiding diamonds won't be very productive, but talking about it and asking questions is a great place to start.  Want to go a step further?  When you purchase a diamond from Emily Chelsea Jewelry, you're directly contributing to our efforts to create change. Shop our engagement rings now and ask us about the source of your stones- I promise we will have an answer better than "I'm not sure, but it's definitely conflict free."