Thankfully, over the past few years, conflict free engagement rings and conflict free diamonds have finally become a talking point. The problem is that most people still don’t even know what conflict-free means.
Diamonds are a powerful commodity in regions beset with conflict. These diamonds go directly towards funding the illegal activities of these warlords. Buying “blood diamonds” essentially makes you are a partner in the killing of human life. Use our tips below to ensure that you take no part in these horrible practices.
At the bottom of this article, we’ve also provided examples of conflict-free engagement rings.
- What Is A Conflict Diamond?
- How to Ensure An Ethical Purchase
- Tips for Buying Ethical Diamonds
- Are Unethical Diamonds Cheaper?
- Ethical Advantage of Vintage Rings
- Conflict Free Sapphires
- Examples of Conflict Free Engagement Rings (Shop)
- Talk to a Diamond Expert
What Is A Conflict Diamond?
According to the UN, the definition of conflict, or blood diamonds is this:
“Diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”United Nations
It isn’t just rebels who trade in blood diamonds. Armies of several states are also involved in the trade. With no credit lines available from the world’s banks, they turn to diamonds to fund their own army.
It is usually rough diamonds that are traded, as these are much harder to trace before they hit the marketplace. Men, women, and children alike are forced to work in appalling conditions to extract the diamonds. Death rates amongst workers in illegal mines are very high.
The Kimberley Process was introduced in the early 21st century in a bid to try and regulate the sources of diamonds traded on the open market. Some argue that the Kimberley process isn’t efficient as conflict diamonds are still bought and sold.
The fact is, though, that any reputable jeweler will only purchase and sell ethical conflict free diamond engagement rings.
How to Ensure An Ethical Purchase
Provenance – the documented history of any item – is vital to protecting this blight on the diamond trade. Without the right documentation, any dealer should refuse to consider buying the diamond offered. Similarly, unless a dealer can provide the documentation, the consumer should walk away.
There are exceptions, however. With vintage and antique diamonds, provenance can be difficult to establish. The age of the diamond, if known, is a reasonable way of verifying that it is not a blood diamond. Examples of ethical diamonds would be any genuine old mine or old European cuts. To learn how to discover the age of a diamond, click here.
The truth is, though, that the industry is heavily reliant on trust. Trust in whoever is selling the rough diamond, the polished diamond, and/or the finished jewelry piece. A certificate from the GIA or other recognized grading authority will help, but it isn’t foolproof. Some enterprising dealers in blood diamonds have ingenious ways of avoiding detection, and these stones do sometimes make it to the general market.
If you get an ill feeling about the vendor selling you the diamond, don’t buy it. You might be wrong, of course, but better that than buying a diamond with a questionable history.
Tips for Buying Ethical Diamonds
There are, of course, lots of countries producing ethical diamonds. Australia, Canada, Russia, South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana are some of those countries.
Namibia and Botswana do sometimes suffer. Smugglers bring diamonds across the borders and then sell them to international buyers. African countries which suffer from internal wars usually have very insecure borders. The Governments of Namibia and Botswana try to stop their diamonds from leaving their borders illegally, but they are not always successful.
Always avoid diamonds from Zimbabwe, Angola, and Ivory Coast. Similarly, keep away from any dealer who buys and sells such diamonds. It is highly common diamonds from these countries are blood diamonds.
In spite of the international communities efforts, blood diamonds still make their way into the market. The truth is that blood diamonds don’t just come from active war zones. They also come from “good countries” that have not yet cracked down on the horrid working conditions of their miners. Unfortunately, the Kimberley Process will still describe such a diamond as “conflict-free”.
The Kimberly Process is more concerned about the “big picture” and doesn’t involve itself in the “smaller details” of what makes a diamond ethical.
We believe that a diamond is ethical only if it follows all the following criteria:
- The diamond cannot come from a war-torn country (and must follow the Kimberly Process)
- The diamond cannot support the funding of wars or bloodshed
- No coerced children can be involved in the mining process or jewelry work
- The working conditions of the mines need to be safe and decent
It is for the above reasons that our company got involved in vintage diamond jewelry. We love diamonds, but we refuse to contribute to a faulty system.
Are Unethical Diamonds Cheaper?
This is an excellent question. You might expect diamonds as a result of conflict to be cheaper, a little like buying a stolen TV in a bar. However, unscrupulous dealers know that selling diamonds under market rates is a massive red flag. To avoid suspicion, they sell as close to market price as possible, while maintaining a competitive advantage.
Ethical diamonds don’t cost more just because they are ethical. Diamond prices are what they are, and will be dependant on the quality of the stone.
If you do, however, receive a discounted diamond that is far below the going rate, please take a step back and investigate. Diamonds have a market value. Any price that is too low is instantly suspicious.
Ethical Advantage of Vintage Rings
Vintage diamonds that are older than 50 years of age (pre-1970s) are always conflict free.
As we’ve said, if you are looking at antique rings (or modern rings with an antique diamond), the age should indicate that the diamond is conflict-free. A little more care is needed for the more recent vintage diamond rings. The period may overlap with one of the many conflicts in diamond-producing areas in the last century.
You can only do so much before you are reliant on the dealer acting responsibly. Most do, of course, but not all. The price difference, as mentioned, will be minimal, so do put some effort into buying an ethical engagement ring.
Here’s more information to learn about the advantages of vintage rings over modern rings:
Conflict Free Sapphires
Sapphires are usually better at being tracked for issues than diamonds, but there are still also concerns when it comes to them. In general, like with diamonds, the best way to avoid issues, will be to buy your sapphire from a reputable dealer or vendor.
Antique sapphire (older than 100 years old) is usually the best way to be certain that there are no issues concerning conflict or ethics. Kashmir sapphires, for example, were all mined over 100 years ago. If a certificate says that your sapphire is from Kashmir, you can be certain that your purchase will not further contribute to the funding of wars or violence.
Examples of Conflict Free Engagement Rings
We, at Estate Diamond Jewelry, pride ourselves on our rare collection of ethical engagement rings. Free free to browse the examples below and also navigate here to view our entire selection.
Foundry Ring. Circa 1920$2,500
Edison Ring. Circa 1920 (Antique, Art Deco Era)$3,800
Brantford Ring. Circa 1925 (Antique, Art Deco Era)$2,700
Lecco Ring. Circa 1930 (Vintage, Art Deco Era)$14,000
Whitby Ring. Circa 1920 (Antique, Art Deco Era)$40,000
Sherman Ring. Circa 1920 (Antique, Art Deco Era)$22,500
Farsley Ring. Circa 1930 (Vintage, Art Deco Era)$2,200
Charlton Diamond and Onyx Ring. Circa 1925 (Antique, Art Deco Era)$14,000
Chrysler Ring. Circa 1925 (Antique, Art Deco Era)$16,000
Talk to a Diamond Expert
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our diamond experts.