OK, I’ve done my ohms, read a passage from my book of enlightenment and now feel sufficiently crunchy and granola enough to write about. . .wait for it. . . conflict diamonds! There was/is much outrage about diamonds from mines in Africa being used to fund terrorism and civil war. The media picked up on this and the jewelry industry jumped on a marketing opportunity. Oh what was that? Something about me being cynical? No darling, the term for the school of thought that I abide by is called “REALISM” and is pitted in political theory. You see, realists don’t judge. We don’t label things as bad or good. Instead, realists believe certain things will happen and it is best to be prepared when it does, mitigate damage and try to come out the other side if not a little more whole, then a little less damaged. Does it mean we are a cold and unfeeling bunch? Absolutely not. We are simply very practical.
Now, back to diamonds. The outrage against conflict diamonds lead to something called the Kimberly Process which was founded in 2003 and supposedly certifies that the diamonds are “conflict free”–i.e. have not been used to fund terrorist or rebel activity against legitimate governments. Newsflash: Kimberly process does not work and there are many loopholes. In fact, the Kimberly Process was so flawed that anti-blood diamond advocacy group, Global Witness, one of Kimberly Process’ founding members, withdrew its support in December of 2011. So what to do if you want to present your beloved with an engagement ring but have moral concerns?
1. Don’t Get a Diamond Engagement Ring
Instead, opt for a colored stone like a pink sapphire, ruby, citrine, emerald, the list goes on. Colored stones are a nice way to tie in a personal touch. If your girl likes pinks then opt for a pink sapphire, or if she has gorgeous red hair try an emerald–I love how emeralds look on redheads!
2. The Other White Stone(s)
A white sapphire is an acceptable substitute for a diamond. I will be honest, it doesn’t have the brilliance, the fire or the sparkle of a diamond but it won’t give you pangs of guilt either. Another option is moissanite a clear stone that is often used as a diamond substitute. With sapphires and moissanite, you do lose much of the romance behind the notion of an engagement ring unfortunately because while a diamond is forever, a moissanite is for a millennium just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
3. Skip The Stone Altogether
If you’re of the funkier and hipper disposition, maybe forgo a stone completely and invest in a charming symbolic ring. These two are my favorite non-rock rings.
4. Get a Non-African Diamond
If you have a jeweler that you work with, ask him/her to source the diamond from Canada. With the heavy investment in Canadian diamond mines these past few years, Canadian diamonds are becoming quite prevalent. I particularly like Canadian diamonds because the government has done an excellent job of only approving mining projects that are environmentally sustainable. In addition, the government requires that a large portion of resources are dedicated to the proper training and education of a local workforce. Caveat: if you ask your jeweler specifically for Canadian diamonds, know that they are going to be more expensive.
A word about diamonds in Africa before I leave you. The government of South Africa has put in place the Black Economic Empowerment program to foster local economic independence. The program strives to teach its people new trades and help them develop the skills needed to obtain steady employment and sustain such economic activity independently. Africa is not only one of the world’s largest diamond resources, it is now also becoming a powerful diamond cutting center. The amount of jobs and livelihoods that the diamond industry has provided to the continent is indeed impressive. Don’t just believe the media hype you hear and vilify the diamond trade in Africa. The reality is that many countries are still developing their economic and political identities and in such areas resources are inevitably misallocated. However, that is no reason to deprive those areas of the chance to grow altogether. In the grand scheme of things, in the early developmental stages of any nation-state, certain things will slip through the cracks. As Americans, it is not our right to tell other nations states how to govern or grow. How can we be so arrogant as to assume that our path is the correct path for other civilizations, cultures and people? Help, we must. Guide, if asked. But throw what’s left of our economic and military power behind bullying someone else into our path? Methinks our priority should be to educate and civilize our own first.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,