The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

29 January 2007

Ethical diamonds: sparkle with a clear conscience

The Hollywood blockbuster film “Blood Diamonds” brings into focus a long-standing issue. Are diamonds ethical? Where does that brilliant gemstone come from… how it was extracted from the ground… were the workers were paid a living wage… and did the diamonds both create and fund conflict?

These are a lot of questions for you to ask before the question is popped and you give or get a diamond ring.

A diamond may be a symbol of love and fidelity… as DeBeers, the world’s leading diamond company, says “A Diamond is Forever”. But according to the International Labour Organisation, many miners (who are often children) work in unsafe conditions. Mining can affect local ecosystems, harm wildlife and deprive local communities of their natural resources. The dust from mines can cause respiratory diseases in both the diamond workers and those living nearby. The diamonds could be funding armed conflicts such as was the case in Sierra Leone. And there is concern about a possible link with money laundering and the financing of drugs and terrorism.

To avoid all of this, you can do one of the following:

1. Buy from companies which market conflict-free and responsibly-mined diamonds, where the gemstone can be traced from the mine through to the point of sale. If you want to be even more ethical, then purchase your diamond in a recycled or responsibly mined metal setting.

In the USA, companies such as GreenKarat, Leber Jeweler and Sumiche Jewelry offer this product. Brilliant Earth sells conflict-free diamonds in recycled gold and platinum and donate 5% of their profits to its Diamonds for Africa Fund. Type in “conflict free diamonds” into Google to find suppliers in your country.

2. Buy a second-hand or antique ring, where no diamond has to be newly mined. Go to an antique shop, or buy at auction, or find it on eBay.

The Hollywood movie should make the idea of conflict-free ethical diamonds even more attractive.

Diamonds for Africa Fund

When Corey Frayer bought a diamond engagement ring for his fiancée, he was appalled to discover he murky legacy of poverty and suffering in the conflict diamond trade. So he decided to donate his diamond to make a positive contribution to Africa. He created the Diamonds for Africa Fund by establishing a partnership with Brilliant Earth and the Indigenous Land Rights Fund, which helps displaced or threatened indigenous communities.

Diamonds for Africa Fund set itself a goal of raising $300,000 for the San Bushmen in Botswana, to improve health and education in villages in the Congo (DRC), and to help children in Sierra Leone affected by conflict diamonds.

Brilliant Earth donates 5% of its profits to local communities affected by the diamond trade. The Fund also invites people to donate their old diamond jewellery or make cash donations. Turn in your old rocks; see what you no longer need, and donate it. The Fund is now planning to raise money through public fundraising events.

Diamonds for Africa Fund:

The aim of the Conflict-Free Diamond Council is to stop the sale of conflict diamonds: