4 Reasons NOT to Put a Diamond Ring on Her Finger

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A diamond is forever,” once proclaimed a weary-eyed copywriter named Frances Gerety. Not long after, her entrancing words were woven into a marketing campaign that captured the hearts of millions of women worldwide. It went on to be hailed as part of the greatest advertising crusade to date and simultaneously, the worst. Fast-forward to today, this saying is understood as a chance at prosperity across the developing world. Yet, a closer examination has revealed it to be anything but that.

Conflict diamonds, Sierra Leone’s most prominent natural resource, have had a harmful effect on society because they lack true value and are products of a brutal capitalist system. The negative effects on locals have been intensified by the influence of Western corporations, most prominently De Beers, on the diamond industry.

Though the temptation to adopt the century-old tradition is rampant, consider these four reasons NOT to invest in gemstones.

Trade Sanctions

Since the discovery of Sierra Leonean diamonds in 1930, De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company, has been capitalizing on the exploitation of entrepreneurial miners and African citizens. They have spoon-fed false needs to the Western world and promoted a growing demand for the acquisition of diamonds. A great deal of their success is owed to a strategic plan that revolved around the monopolization of gemstones.

Through it, De Beers was able to monitor prices by developing alliances with small companies, making business deals behind closed doors, and purchasing the bulk of extracted uncut stones. These trades negated the process of corporate accountability and left hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans, along with many North American customers, in the dark about their questionable practices.

Political Instability

The stability of Sierra Leone had been in danger before the cagey mining plots of De Beers but their practices have made it increasingly difficult to know what’s really going on. This is because Sierra Leone operates as a “shadow state” and is able to silence the faint cries of abused civilians. Poor governance is at the heart of the issue. The social conditions in Sierra Leone are abysmal because governments have made poor use of profits generated from natural resources.

Under such a system, the money from diamond mining is used to benefit few people, as opposed to the general public. These conditions allow patronage networks to control economic resources in order to finance countless wars. Accordingly, it may come as no surprise that diamonds have been less than advantageous to the impoverished citizens. Instead, it shows us that the process of globalization has separated Sierra Leoneans from the wealth that they create.

Historic Events

In 1991, a civil war broke loose after a man called Foday Sankoh introduced the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone. As the national leader, his initial goal was to “liberate civilians from the clutches of tyranny.” Or so he claimed. It quickly became apparent that his objective was to harness profitability from every illicit mining opportunity he could get his hands on.

Foday’s desire for power grew and he began to use extremely undignified strategies to maintain control over Sierra Leone’s natural resources. Backed by a powerful army, Sankoh instilled fear into people by severing their limbs, forcing women into slavery, and training child soldiers for future militia operations. After reading up on this, it dawned upon me that we are much closer to the problem than we think. In all likelihood, you know someone who owns jewelry incrusted with diamonds. By virtue of their purchase, they may already be connected to the illicit mining industry. So continuing to purchase diamonds only perpetuates this legacy of tyranny and subversive behavior. 

Consumer Habits

Let’s face it. Humans, by nature, are consumers. From the tender years of adolescence, children inherit a golden set of ideals. High up on this list are marriage and diamond rings. The two are deeply intertwined. Consumers, even those with the purest of intentions, actively contribute to the blood diamonds conflict by demonstrating wants that can only be satisfied through the production of these supposed “value rich” commodities.

Similarly, the power-hungry executives behind De Beers have contributed through their obliviousness to, and disinterest in the production process itself. As a result, aspiring buyers grasp the commercialized values of the jewels but fail to recognize the potential for social or political issues in Sierra Leone. It is crucial for consumers to make well-informed decisions and to understand the weight of their buying power.

After all, the worth of a relationship is not measured by the size of a rock on her finger, but by the love that bonds two individuals together.

This article was written by Miri Vinitski, and we agree with her views on the subject. Of course we think that the best gift you can give to someone you love is a pair of handmade shoes :)