Conflict Free Engagement Rings January 24, 2018 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog
Thankfully, over the past few years, conflict-free diamonds has finally become a talking point. The problem is that most people don’t know what conflict-free means.
Blood diamonds are a powerful commodity in regions beset with conflict. Buying blood diamonds will make 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?
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.”
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 diamonds.
Ensuring 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. 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.
Other 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.
Does Price Matter?
This is an excellent question. You might expect diamonds from 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. Diamonds have a going rate. Any price that is too low is instantly suspicious.
Ethical Vintage Rings
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. Lots of people will be grateful you do, if it means a reduction in blood diamonds becoming available.
Some Examples of Conflict-Free Diamond 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.
Auckland Ring. Circa 1905
Handcrafted during the Edwardian Era, the Auckland Ring (circa 1905) features an ornate bow-motif that finishes off with fine engravings. Diamond and milgrain grace the loops of the bows. The center old European cut diamond weighs approximately 1.23 carats and is I color and VS2 clarity.
Antique J.E. Caldwell Ring
A unique Antique JE Caldwell Ring, featuring a stunning old European cut diamond and surrounded by a halo of diamonds. The sides of the gallery showcase filigree and diamonds. Diamonds on both sides of the split shoulders accent the center diamond. The center antique diamond is approximately 1.08ct, J color, and VS2 clarity.
Hadley Ring. Circa 1925
A rare and impressive original Art Deco Era Engagement Ring that features a 2.19-carat old European cut diamond, I color, and VS1 clarity. The four corners of the bezel portray old cut diamonds. Bordering the square are calibre’ sapphires. The handcrafted platinum shank portrays beautiful floral engravings.
Old Mine Cushion Cut Ring
The delicate, triple-wire band of the ring and the delicate filigree along the lower gallery has been expertly handcrafted from platinum. The center old mine cut diamond is from circa 1925 and is approximately J color and VS2 clarity.
Click here to learn more.
Old European Cut Engagement Ring
A stunning 1.17ct Old European Diamond Engagement Ring adorned with leaf-shaped accents along the shoulder and finished with elegant milgrain. The center diamond is 1.17ct, I color and VS2 clarity. An additional 0.10 carats of diamonds line the shoulders.