London-based Ingle and Rhode jewelers have launched an information graphic to spread awareness among the consumers about blood diamonds and how diamond trade regulatory body Kimberley is allowing conflict diamonds into the market.
Five years after Global Witness, an organization established in 1993 that seeks to break links between natural resource exploitation and armed conflict, exposed the role of diamonds in funding civil war in Angola in 1998, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was set up in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream market.
Its job is to monitor the production of diamonds and isolate those mined or produced from areas of armed conflicts that are funded by the illegal sale of the diamonds themselves.
These diamonds - conflict or blood - are mined and sold illegally, to finance armed action, violence and human rights violations in the war-torn regions of Africa, from where two-thirds of the world's diamonds are extracted. The diamonds originate from areas controlled by anti-government forces and, according to the United Nations, are used to fund military action against local governments.
The Kimberley Process only addresses diamonds produced in areas controlled by rebel militias. It doesn't take into consideration violence committed by government forces, Tim Ingle from Ingle and Rhode said in a statement.
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Most consumers still cannot be sure whether their diamonds come from nor whether they are financing armed violence, he added.
The London jeweler focuses on diamond production particularly in Zimbabwe, the seventh largest producer of diamonds in the world. According to the graphic released by Ingle and Rhode, the KPCS has certified diamonds from Zimbabwe's controversial Marange diamond mines to be conflict-free despite reports of human rights abuses in the area.
According to Global Witness, the Zimbabwean army seized control of the Marange diamond fields in 2008, killing around 200 miners.
Over $60 million of mining revenues from Marange mines are suspected of funding Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe's personal allies.
Since this conflict does not involve warring rebel militias, the KPCS considers Zimbabwe diamonds to be conflict-free, Ingle said.
The KPCS's work came under scrutiny in August last year as well when a key founding member quit the regulatory body after seeing the process's inability to prevent illegal trade in conflict diamonds.