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Global_18

Arena Culture Collection of 0.02, 0.03 and 0.04 carat solitaire diamonds blood diamonds. Blood diamonds, which help rebel groups fund wars and violent movements against legitimate governments, have plagued the diamond trade for many years, tarnishing its image and plunging it into a dark, corrupt and dangerous world. Particularly prevalent in war-ravaged African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and Sierra Leone, the number of blood diamonds could potentially decrease if efforts are made to authenticate the source of diamonds as both natural and ethical. Known as the Kimberley Process, these kinds of efforts began in South Africa in 2003. While significant progress has been made, the nail in the coffin has yet to be delivered – violence continues in the CAR and DRC over control of minerals. Consequently, delegates from 81 countries met in Johannesburg in November as part of the Kimberley Process Certificate Scheme to discuss the possibility of more efficient action against the blood diamond market. In his opening speech, Shamiso Mtisi, a representative of the Kimberly Process Civil Society Coalition, called for mandatory registration of mines. He argued for “control over, and licensing of, diamond mines… and ensuring the routing of cash purchases through official banking channels supported by verifiable documentation”. He also pressed for diamond buyers to be registered and licensed, along with “sellers, exporters, agents and courier companies involved in carrying rough diamonds”. If anything comes out of the emergence of synthetic diamonds, then maybe it will be the solidification of the Kimberley Process and perhaps a move towards stopping conflict diamonds from damaging emerging economies, and their citizens, around the world. On the one hand then, the luxurious top end of the diamond industry is booming, with rare and coloured natural diamonds selling for millions of dollars. Yet on the other hand, synthetically produced diamonds threaten the longevity of the industry altogether. This polarisation of the trade is fascinating, not only because it revolutionises the way people will buy diamonds, but also because it may make the industry much safer and far more ethical in the process. Injecting a little colour Ironically, the reason for a diamond being coloured, as opposed to clear, stems from imperfections in its formation process. In the production of colourless, or ‘white’, diamonds, carbon-bearing rocks deep beneath the Earth’s surface are subjected to immense pressure and heat, rearranging the carbon atoms as a result. These carbon molecules should form perfect diamond bonds during the cooling process. Yet sometimes traces of other elements are present, which, in turn, can produce the extremely rare coloured stones. For example, yellow diamonds are caused by traces of nitrogen while blue means there was boron present. When it comes to the most treasured and rare of coloured diamonds, pink and red, scientists are not yet certain what deformation causes them. In many ways, this seems to make the rarity of these specimens even more precious – they truly are a mystery. home of coloured diamonds, having developed a grading system linking the colour and value of each coloured stone to a specific societal rank in the sixth century. However, while prices soar for these rare specimens, the rest of the diamond trade has struggled to cope since the advent of laboratory produced synthetic diamonds. They can be produced in a matter of hours and are virtually identical to their natural counterparts to the naked eye. De Beers in South Africa and the Okavango Diamond Company in Botswana have both reported low profits as a result of this new competition in the industry. In addition, firms in India and China – which are responsible for most of the world’s diamond cutting and polishing – are under scrutiny after selling parcels of synthetic diamonds mixed with natural ones. As a counter measure, De Beers and other companies have developed synthetic diamond detection machines in order to exclude any unnatural jewels from their collection. In early December, the Gemological Institute of India and the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council inaugurated the Diamond Detection and Resource Centre at Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai. While India’s reputation in the diamond industry is most at stake following the rise in fraudsters passing off synthetically produced diamonds as ‘natural’, these measures seek to differentiate the natural stones through showing their provenance. Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group and founder of the Rapaport Diamond Report, says: “Synthetic diamonds are a good thing. They are good for the diamond industry because they will force our trade to be more honest. They will force us to control our supply chain and finally take responsibility for the products we buy and sell.” Importantly, those who pass off synthetic diamonds as natural will inevitably be put under pressure by retailers, which in an ideal world might lead to a more transparent industry. Rapaport adds: “Diamond miners will now be forced to aggressively differentiate natural diamonds from synthetics through innovative marketing, promotion and advertising campaigns.” As such, a more open diamond trade could inadvertently help campaigns against the collection of diamonds by unethical or illegal means, which are then known as The Pink Dream (photo courtesy of Sotheby’s) global second quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 49 Farrukh Younus, Implausibleblog, Creative Commons by 2.0


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