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How to Buy Conflict-Free Diamond Jewellery

13 August 2023 3 min read

Let’s talk about conflict-free diamonds.

Whether it's a family heirloom, a piece that memorises a special event or just a beloved accessory, diamond jewellery is something to treasure.

But how would you feel if you discovered your jewellery had helped fund brutal conflicts? Its beauty, marred by war and bloodshed.

As we all strive to become more conscious consumers, knowing where our diamond jewellery comes from is critical to avoid buying a stone with a history of suffering behind it. 

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What are conflict diamonds?

If you want to understand what conflict diamonds are in more depth, read our blog: Blood Diamonds & The Kimberley Process - What is it and Does it Really Work?

The UN defines a conflict diamond (or ‘blood diamond’ as they are sometimes known) as: 'any diamond that is mined in areas controlled by forces opposed to the legitimate, internationally recognised government of a country, and that is sold to fund military action against that government'.

Rough diamonds, mined in regions held by rebel forces, and sold with the profits going towards arming the rebels. All as part of bloody civil wars that cause millions to suffer. 

So how can you make sure the diamonds you buy have never played a part in such horrors? How can you make sure you're buying a conflict-free diamond?

The Kimberley Process

We’ll start by talking about the Kimberley Process. 

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established in 2003 to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds. It is a collaboration between governments, diamond industry representatives, and civil society organisations, to certify that rough diamonds are free from conflict and have been sourced responsibly.

Under the scheme, participating countries must implement strict regulations and procedures to prevent the entry of conflict diamonds into the legitimate diamond supply chain. These countries must also issue Kimberley Process certificates for every shipment of rough diamonds, ensuring their traceability and authenticity.

The Kimberley Process is a big step towards ensuring the diamonds you buy aren’t funding any conflict. Today, over 99% of the rough diamonds on the open market are accounted for by the scheme. But many claim the process is still flawed.

Criticisms of the Kimberley Process

First, critics argue that while its focus is on preventing the trade of diamonds associated with rebel conflict, it neglects other ethical and environmental concerns around diamond mining (you can read more on that here: What is Sustainable Jewellery & Why Should We Care?), meaning diamonds that are traded on the open market could still have a dark past. 

Others contend that the Kimberley Process lacks transparency and that diamond traceability is still difficult, leaving opportunities for smugglers to infiltrate the market. 

And finally, many point out that the effectiveness of the scheme relies on the implementation and enforcement of regulations by participating countries, potentially compromising the integrity of the process in regions where oversight is weak.

How can I buy a conflict-free diamond?

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So, how can you make sure your diamond jewellery is conflict-free? Here's a few things to consider next time you're shopping for ethical jewellery:

1. Research jewellers

Look for jewellers that have strong ethical sourcing policies. Consider brands that support initiatives like the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) or other trusted industry certifications.

2. Ask for certifications 

Request documentation from your jeweller that verifies a diamond's ethical origin, such as a Kimberley Process certificate or other reputable certifications like the Forevermark program.

3. Seek transparency 

Engage with jewellers who are transparent about their supply chains and are willing to provide information on the diamond's journey from start to finish.

But really, if you want a diamond that can be guaranteed 100% conflict-free, there's one clear way to go…

4. Consider lab-grown diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds offer a sustainable alternative to mined diamonds and have a significantly lower social and environmental impact. 

Read: What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?

These are bonafide diamonds, created in a lab using a seed crystal, with all the same elegance and sparkle of a mined diamond. But as they’ve not been taken from the earth, or travelled through dubious supply chains to reach the market, there’s no chance that this type of diamond jewellery could have been involved in conflict, environmental devastation or human rights abuses the way mined diamonds may have been.

With a lab-grown diamond, you are guaranteed it is conflict-free. 

At illi, we only supply lab-grown diamonds, because we care passionately about our planet and its people. We believe that it’s our responsibility to source and create ethical products for our customers - giving them the peace of mind that their beautiful diamond necklace, bracelet or set of earrings is free from corruption. Pieces that can be enjoyed, without worrying about the journey it’s taken to reach you. 

To learn more about buying ethical jewellery, read our recent blog: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Ethical Fine Jewellery Online.

Shop conflict-free diamond jewellery from illi. Browse our collection today.