controversial diamonds approved into the kimberley process
After a long battle on whether to allow the controversial Zimbabwe Marange diamonds from entering the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, the final consensus was determined on Thursday. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, various NGOs planned to ban the meeting due to their disapproval of the KP’s chair, Mathieu Yamba’s, decision to allow these diamonds into the one certification scheme we have in place to stop the flow of conflict diamonds into the trade. These “newly”-approved diamonds (or I should say newly “finalized” diamonds), which have factual traces of human rights violations (as reported by the BBC), are planned to ship worldwide as quickly as 14 days. I have banned these stones months ago from being sold in my gallery, and am glad I made that decision. Despite the approval from others, Marange diamonds remain banned in the United States due to sanctions on the government of Zimbabwe’s leader, Robert Mugabe. That is not to say, however, that international diamond manufacturers will be diligent about keeping these stones out of the US. According to one diamond company I interviewed, many manufacturers have international facilities where “rough stones from various regions are often mixed together and origin is no longer traced after cutting.” Another diamond source said they were extremely diligent about tracing rough stones and referred to his “memos” which are binding legal documents which clearly state the diamonds “have not originated from Marange Zimbabwe.” As far as third-party verification is concerned, there currently isn’t any system in place I know of that can say otherwise! The Kimberley Process was a great attempt at that third-party verification but as we see with recent developments it is no longer legitimate with the approval of these Marange stones. The interesting fact in these recent developments is that the WDC, and the WFDB (all leaders in the diamond industry and part of the Kimberley Process) have all been quoted in praising Thursday’s final approval of the Zimbabwe Marange stones. Shouldn’t third-party verification as well as praise come from those who do not benefit financially from this decision?