The diamond world has changed dramatically from when “blood diamonds” made headlines.You may not be aware of how sourcing has changed, or the long journey diamonds take to end up in a ring. We’d like to touch on the past, present, and future of diamonds and set your expectations about the nature of current diamond sourcing.
An Unfortunate Recent History
Diamonds have been worn for thousands of years but it wasn’t until the 1800s that they became a popular symbol of eternal love and commitment. This newfound popularity caused an increase in demand for diamonds which caused an increase in price, and because of an artificially restricted supply, diamonds became valuable social and economic currency.
This is why diamonds were used to finance war efforts by rebel and warlord groups in African countries such as Sierra Leone, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola in the 1990s through the 2000s. Diamonds mined locally were expensive and in-demand so extremist groups took control of the mines and the market was flooded with these diamonds- called blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds. Understandably, many people became uncomfortable with purchasing diamonds because of this.
What is the landscape like now?
We don’t want to sugarcoat things: there is an incredible amount of unrest in the world and some of the world’s diamond and gemstone mines are located in areas of conflict. The diamond industry is also notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to diamond origin making stone tracing difficult. Still, there are many countries and companies that are making dramatic strides to improve the situation.
One such group is the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). Since its origin in the early 2000’s, members of this organization have ratified extensive requirements to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free” in their aim to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the trade. No system can claim to be perfect but we know that “Kimberley Process members account for 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds”, which has renewed faith in diamonds that are currently on the market. KCPS also partners with other nonprofits and charities such asDiamond Developement Initiative and RESOLVE which aims to help communities after conflict to restore land, improve local health, and empower artisanal mines and communities via responsible sourcing. A third group striving to improve traceability is the world renowned gemological lab, GIA, which offers Diamond Origin Reports. These reports are generated only when rough diamonds leave their country of origin with a KCPS certificate and mine invoice (you can read more on their processhere). These are only three of the many groups who aim to improve the diamond market and while they aren’t perfect, they’re making great strides forward.
So what are your options?
When purchasing diamonds, you have several options when it comes to finding a diamond that matches your values. All US imported diamonds comply with KCPS and some special stones may also come with GIA certifications or origin reports. If you’re worried about the environmental impact of mining today, you can instead opt for a lab grown moissanite or recycle an heirloom diamond that’s been in your family.
Heirloom diamonds can be difficult to trace but while you may not know where an heirloom diamond was originally from, you do know where it’s been. And with heirloom diamonds, there is a deep personal connection that other diamonds don’t have.
Our Diamond Values
At Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry, we source diamonds that are in compliance with the United Nations and the KPCS. Our team works with a small network of trusted diamond vendors who are accredited within the industry and who uphold these strict standards with no exceptions. If you are looking for a diamond as your center stone in your engagement ring, we use our trusted vendors to help us source the best stone for your ring.
For our designs that use accent diamonds, we use recycled or Canadian origin stones whenever possible. Canadian origin melee diamonds are mined in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and meet strict rules regarding their effects on local communities.
At Valerie Madison we pride ourselves on being transparent. Our goal is to empower and educate our customers and help them choose jewelry that is right for them. We are constantly learning and growing but our commitment to the environment and working with trusted vendors stays the same. Valerie’s designs are thoughtfully made and take into account the world around us and it’s natural resources. And while diamonds may have had a complex past, we’re working alongside accredited vendors with high standards to help give diamonds a bright future.