FACT: Diamond popularity comes at a terrible human blood price.
You may have read or heard about the bloodstained history of diamonds-- specifically what are known as “conflict diamonds” or what Wikipedia calls “blood diamonds”.
Never heard of conflict diamonds?We’d be surprised, since the ‘no blood diamonds!’ movement is now reaching millions of diamond boycotters… but those wondering what it’s all about can find a good introduction in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, “Blood Diamond” (that’s an IMDB movie link)-- which we’ll review in detail below.
It’s doubtful the creation and sale of a mass-marketed
Literally, entire nations have come close to destruction because they were unlucky enough to be exploited by the diamond cartel and its nefarious practices.
product has ever caused so much misery
as the natural diamond.
Why all the attention in recent decades to “blood diamonds”?
In recent years, men buying a jewelry gift for the woman in their lives have begun to ask themselves: Will she approve of this purchase…ethically?Many of these ladies now have quite strong feelings about blood diamonds (also known as ‘conflict diamonds’). He may already know for a fact that she feels strongly about the repulsive and often illegal diamonds trade. If she’s got strong feelings on this issue— and many people today do— he’d better do his homework before buying anything sparkly. Yep! She’s lovely. She’s smart. And she’s got a big heart! How could you be so lucky? If this is how your leading lady already feels, you can smile, feel good and shop confidently making a purchase from CubicZirconia.com.
If you’re not sure, that’s why we wrote this post today.Would you believe a single Hollywood movie is responsible for much of that new public awareness of conflict diamonds in the last 15 years?
Movies have the power to move people and create emotions.
We’re proud that Hollywood actually dared to expose how awful the diamond biz can be-- especially when the movies over the last century have been a major factor in marketing the Great Lies of the Diamond Cartel to the public in the first place.
That’s why we advise the man not yet sure whether the lady in his life will accept a diamond alternative engagement ring to DO THIS:
1) Read “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Talking to your love about Cubic Zirconia or other non-mined-diamond engagement alternatives”
The discussion with your future spouse about a non-diamond engagement ring can be a tough conversation when society has a certain expectation but you want to do something different. We call that discussion being "between a rock and a hard place". This article we wrote will provide a few ideas and resources to help couples talk through the options for a non-mined-diamond alternative (including the specific advice in point #2 below).
2) Watch the Leonardo Dicaprio movie “Blood Diamond” TOGETHER Blood Diamond (Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly) [IMDB link] (movie summarized below).
What are “blood diamonds”?
In our culture’s love affair with mined natural diamonds, most consumers historically have been unaware of their origins.
For years, critics have rightfully criticized the diamond market for its awful labor practices-- especially in war-torn African countries. Just look at the references on any related Wikipedia page such as the one linked to at the beginning of this blog post.
Yet the average person may only know that these precious gemstones are mined from the earth-- and not much more.
However, in recent years more and more consumers have begun to ask tough questions about diamond mining practices-- 'by whom and under what conditions'?"Blood diamonds" are NOT mined and sold ethically.
These conflict diamonds were mined under deplorable conditions by ill-paid or unpaid, essentially slave-laborers controlled with violence and under pain of death to themselves and their families.
And funds from selling the stones are used by terrorist groups to finance their activities, plus allow child-soldier-using rebel groups and ruthless dictators to create havoc, fuel conflict, incite civil war and commit genocide (more details on these atrocities further down).
Suffice to say: these mined, natural diamond stones have been sullied by human exploitation so badly that some shoppers believe these gemstones give off a filthy residue in the spiritual realm.
Imagine a bloody aura beyond what the eye can see-- an invisible but very real taint that can never be washed out with the passage of time.
Who wants that on her finger?
Couples Watching “Blood Diamond” Movie Together?Already seen “Blood Diamond” but looking for another entertaining movie that recognizes how awful the diamond industry really can be sometimes?
Here’s some other pretty good ones:
If you're a man wondering whether the lady you love will accept a non-mined-diamond substitute for an engagement ring, here's a low-risk way to find out: on movie night, simply rent or stream an awesome movie tens of millions of viewers have already seen.
We recommend you set up a movie night for the two of you together to watch “Blood Diamond” Blood Diamond (Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly) [IMDB link].
Lead actor DiCaprio is easy on the eyes, and unlikely to meet with an objection from any female watcher-- and this powerful movie was Academy Award nominated (5 Oscar nominations).
Got a future fianceé on the fence about choosing natural mined diamonds versus a diamond alternative for an engagement ring or other jewelry piece?
This movie moves the emotions on this subject more than any words could.
You probably won’t have to say much.
In fact, if you haven’t seen this movie, don’t watch it until you are together.
You will BOTH likely want to talk after you have seen it.
Don’t be surprised if after watching the movie together, you hear her say that the thought of wearing a small, sparkling crystal that’s supposed to symbolize love now sends shivers down her spine-- because that shiny rock might very well have been polished by blood.
“Blood Diamond” Movie Review
* PLOT SPOILERS *
The “Blood Diamond” movie depicts scenes set during the Sierra Leone Civil War of 1991–2002 .
Imagine an entire country torn apart by the struggle between government loyalists determined to hold onto power no matter the cost in money or murder and ruthless insurgent forces willing to kill the people to save the people from that same government.
The atrocities are awful-- and not just what happens to black local fisherman Solomon Vandy and his family (played by supporting actor Djimon Hounsou), who is pressed into service by rebels trying to overthrow the government and using slave labor at diamond mining camps to raise the money to finance their reign of terror.
Corrupt bureaucrats at every turn.
Throats cut and bodies tossed in a ditch.
Buses hijacked and everyone aboard shot.
Whipping mining workers who pass out from heat exhaustion.
Entire villages destroyed in a senseless struggle.
Torture as a governmental policy.
Press representatives gunned down in the street.
Hands chopped off to discourage voting in elections.
Slave laborers in deplorable conditions.
Brainwashed 10-year-old child soldiers toting AK-47s.
Screenwriter Charles Leavitt wrote the film with the assumption that it would offend the diamond cartel and so made sure to portray the industry truthfully, aware that he could potentially be sued.
It's a 2006 movie with real-life-like happenings from 1999.
In the decade and a half since, no such lawsuit has succeeded-- because so much of what this movie portrays IS and HAS BEEN what life was like in the diamond mines of conflict regions (especially Africa).
One morning, while mining a river, Solomon Vandy discovers an enormous pink diamond. The cruel rebel overseer at the forced-labor camp tries to take the stone, but the area is suddenly overrun by government soldiers.
Solomon buries the stone before being captured and sent to jail. There he meets white Danny Archer (played by actor Leo DiCaprio). This is not a soft man: diamond smuggler, mercenary soldier for hire, a man unafraid of taking a life if the price is right. He does, however, have a buyer for Vandy's stone: Rudolph van de Kaap, a corrupt South African mining executive.
Hearing of the pink diamond in prison, Archer arranges for himself and Vandy to be freed. He offers to help Solomon find his missing family if together they recover the diamond.Along the way, the two men meet an American journalist named Maddy Bowen (played by actress Jennifer Connelly), who is attempting to write an exposé on the illicit diamond trade. As she says in the movie: "People back home would not buy a diamond if they knew it cost someone their hand."
Before succeeding, the two men begin fighting over the most important thing: Archer wants to sell the diamond and get the hell out of Africa, while Solomon cares only about finding his son, Dia (who has been drafted as a child soldier into the rebel army while his father was incarcerated).
At the end, Solomon and Maddy meet in London, where they execute an undercover operation meant to expose the diamond industry’s dirty deeds.
The former slave-laborer who barely escaped with his life exchanges the pink diamond for £2 million British pounds and uses the funds to finance a reunion with his entire family. Maddy takes photographs of the exchange and publishes her exposé on the diamond trade and the buyer’s criminal actions.
The value of the “Blood Diamond” Movie cannot be overstatedThe fictional story of Solomon, Danny and Maddy wasn’t a depiction of some isolated event. And the war in Sierra Leone wasn't either any kind of anomaly. The movie is entertaining, but it’s also an explicit example told through a small perspective of the blood and war that has spanned the entire history of the diamond cartel-- in many countries-- over the last 100 years.
Still, one cannot exaggerate how powerfully this one piece of pop culture has changed the zeitgeist.
And frankly, conflict over control of diamonds isn’t done just because the movie says there's peace in Sierra Leone now.
The humanitarian value of this movie in our opinion was that much of the world first became more aware of the human rights’ abuses, dangerous labor practices, terrorist funding, money laundering, and environmental destruction wrought by the mined natural diamond industry.
Few movies have been more influential in causing a stirring call for change.
Blood, war, torture, corruption, family separation, death and genocide do not make a good investment (either financially, or as a symbol for a promised lifetime of wedded bliss.
(Forgive us for the brutality of some of these words, but we really feel strongly about this topic)
And most watchers of this movie feel the same after watching-- if they didn’t already feel that way beforehand.
Thanks to the actors, writers, producers, and marketers who brought this movie into the public consciousness alongside director Edward Zwick, things have changed for the better in many ways.
15 years later, though, the truth is this: it’s not enough.
Aren’t “blood diamonds” just a thing of the past? Didn’t they make laws to stop that?
The “Blood Diamond” movie was released six years after the formation of an allegedly ‘international protocol’ to make dealing in blood diamonds more difficult.
It’s the same group of men and women before whom the “Blood Diamond” character Solomon Vandy appears as a guest speaker-- where he is met with a standing ovation upon telling his terrifying story as a victim of the diamond industry.
However, blood diamonds are sadly not a ‘thing of the past’ (as diamond cartel lobbyists would have you believe).
Indeed, many consumers who hear about the issue for the first time, hear about it in the light of something that’s been “banned” or “ended” or made illegal.
Yes, there are supposed to be protocols the diamond industry follows to protect against these things...but it’s lipstick on a pig.
When you buy a natural diamond, you simply cannot know for sure whether your dollars are also supporting torture, family separation, corruption and civil war.
Outside of healthcare, it’s generally not good when the word “blood” becomes an adjective for your industry. And the blood isn’t going to wash away as easily as a positive “spin” publicity campaign paid for with stained currency.Sadly, while some advances have been made for human rights, the terrible blood price of many mined, natural diamonds is pretty much as true in 2022 as it was in 2006 before the movie came out.
Despite the year 2000 Kimberley Process, it’s very difficult and frankly near impossible for an average diamond retailer to tell you 100% for sure that the diamond you buy is not possibly a “blood diamond”-- especially if it was mined in Southern or Western Africa in the last 100 years.
Why has the Kimberly Protocol been an abysmal failure?
Well, it was an international agreement that was supposed to prevent conflict diamonds from getting into the market.And it doesn’t do that in any measurable, meaningful way.
The Kimberley Process started when southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the trade in ‘conflict diamonds' and ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.
The Kimberley Process is a noble initiative that indeed has created some positive humanitarian change, but if we’re being honest-- it’s well-known that improvement has been limited in its mandate and implementation.
And the process has been only infrequently updated in the last two plus decades.
Some countries have attempted to legislate against the sale of conflict diamonds. Other nations did something that sounded nice for the newspapers in the last 20 years since Kimberley-- and a number later reversed their policies when more tax-hungry politicians were in power.
To be fair, there are institutions and diamond producers making solid efforts to produce ethical diamonds.
To be clear: some diamonds are mined, processed and sold in legitimate, ethical ways.
And things have gotten better in the mines in the last couple decades (though, as noted before it isn’t as clean in this decade as the sparkle swindlers’ PR spin-cycle machine wants the average consumer to believe).
Sadly, however, many horrific abuses continue.
Too many of the most ruthless human rights’ abusers continue to sully the entire diamond industry.
Unfortunately, you could say the whole thing has ended up being more of a PR stunt than a meaningful change initiative (and it hurts to say that for people like this writer, who wishes the capitalist system didn’t so often reward the most ruthless humans among us).
We think it's naive to the Nth degree to trust the diamond sellers themselves to police whether and how much profit they themselves can make by selling diamonds.
----> Who put the Dobermans in charge of checking
ham sandwich quality, anyway? <----
Until and unless real laws with real teeth regulate the industry-- since it's primarily mostly based on a system of self-policing by companies and organizations within the diamond industry-- this isn’t likely to change dramatically for the better.
The result: even 15 years after that movie came out, blood-tainted diamonds still get smuggled from conflict regions on a daily basis, and sold "certified" as being conflict-free.
Once a diamond mined in a conflict zone-- and smuggled out illegally for resale-- arrives with some sort of “documentation” to the so-called ‘first world’ to be sold to buyers in Japan, Western Europe, Australia or North America, there's no retracing its steps to really find out its origin.
Few do anything about this disparity between truth and public perception (although many, many newspaper and magazine articles have been written about the continuing crisis in the last 20 years).
The sad truth is that it is up to consumers to fight the demand for blood diamonds.
How many “blood diamonds” are there in the world?
Literally millions and millions of these diamonds are around-- initially sold to jewelers.
That market has inspired civil wars to control the supply, funded terrorists and created cash used by dictators to purchase automatic weapons, bombs, and poisons used to eliminate undesirables in their region through systematic genocide.
Millions and millions of dirty diamonds.
In the display case at a local diamond jeweler.
For resale on platforms like Ebay or Poshmark.
On the hand of a friend or work colleague.And stacked in massive containers within the gigantic warehouse vaults where a large percentage of previously-mined diamond supply is kept hidden and off the market so that the diamond cartel can avoid an over-supply and keep retail prices artificially inflated above actual intrinsic values based on natural diamond rarity (or lack thereof).
Uggh, it’s enough to make a conscientious shopper who cares about human rights sick to his or her stomach.
Due to smuggling shenanigans and that system of self-policing with the Dobermans in charge of the ham sandwiches, you’ll even find conflict diamonds having been purchased with a “conflict-free” certification of some kind (after all, forged paperwork isn't exactly rocket science).
We, too, don’t believe that conflict diamonds make up the majority of all diamonds available today (and they may not even have done so in the past few decades). Some estimates are as low as 4 to 15% and others much higher. Those numbers may even be accurate for stones mined in the last few years after at least some progress has been made to make it more difficult to profit off of human misery mining diamonds in deplorable, often-unpaid working conditions.
Based on the best available research, investigators and human rights' activists are sure that "Blood diamonds" or “conflict diamonds” do NOT make up a majority of the diamond market in 2022.
But just 4-15% is not at all accurate for stones mined 20-100 years ago. The truth is, we don’t know how high that percentage is-- but it’s likely MUCH higher (maybe even a majority). And many of those “tainted” stones are still around, still being bought and sold and recycled-- even sometimes recycled in schemes that “whitewash” the stone and make it seem like it was mined more recently.
Whatever percentage of natural diamonds in the world can be considered “blood diamonds” is in dispute. The number may even be small compared to ethically-mined natural diamond sources, but it is very difficult to discern exactly where a diamond has come from and what "footprint" it has left on its journey to the jewelry store, and ultimately, to becoming a part of a buyer’s ring or other jewelry.
Blood Diamond Alternatives?
The good news is that there are alternatives for conflict diamonds.
We believe anybody considering buying jewelry-- an engagement ring especially-- should be aware of their other non-diamond alternative options-- and at CubicZirconia.com, we’re proud to be one of what we feel are the best dollars-for-value options on the market.
Traditions fade, or morph into practices we still cherish, but are noticeably different.
How will she feel as a natural mined diamond glimmers on her finger after learning about the industry’s bloody history?
We invite customers from around the world to save a life and buy a natural diamond alternative! The knowledge about blood diamonds made possible because of that “Blood Diamond” movie truly has created an increased love for quality diamond alternatives among people who concern themselves with human rights.
It could be what we make and sell (highest-quality cubic zirconia on the planet?).
Or a “man-made” synthetic diamond.
Those above-named options all look like a mined clear natural diamond (to a greater or lesser degree). Even a colored gemstone (real or artificial) can be a great diamond alternative (it just won’t look like one).
Why not just choose lab-created diamonds?More and more “man-made”, “synthetic”, “lab-grown” or “lab created” diamonds are being introduced in recent years.
As of writing, we don’t make or sell these “artificial diamonds”-- what the diamond mining fat cats would prefer the new kids on the block to be called-- but aren’t against the idea in principle. Indeed, we may even launch future business projects selling our precious metal jewelry with man-made diamonds.
We have no problem calling those stones “genuine” if they have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds (though the diamond mining companies have a hissy fit over this same marketing label).
Today’s lab-grown diamond prices have little to do with the actual cost to make them-- the inputs of hard materials and needed infrastructure.
However, in 2022 those lab-grown diamonds are being sold to unsuspecting customers at prices that are just a bit cheaper than natural diamonds mined from the earth with sweat and sacrifice (and innocent blood, too)…
And that’s a shame.
The prices asked for lab-created diamonds is just still way too high to justify in our opinion—an opinion shared by increasing numbers of savvy consumers who know what their money's worth-- for a product that is basically limitless in supply, as opposed to actually somewhat-limited-in-supply natural diamonds.
If these artificial man-made diamonds keep getting sold at such a premium, we feel like our 5A cubic zirconia is a far better option.
Why choose 5A cubic zirconia from CubicZirconia.com?
Not only are our 5A diamond-quality cubic zirconia stones visually indistinguishable from flawless ideal cut genuine diamonds, that even jewelers with decades of experience can’t tell them apart with the naked eye and without using special equipment and testing methods, but the quality and craftsmanship we put into the precious metal mountings we set these cubic zirconia stones into is simply impeccable.
Indeed, like our motto says: “if you can’t tell the difference, why pay the difference?”
And when compared to the current exorbitant price for man-made lab diamonds, we ask why pay that much if you can get the same sparkle, fire and brilliance at a small fraction of the cost from a similarly “man-made” and “lab-created” 5A cubic zirconia stone from CubicZirconia.com-- for less than a hundred US dollars?
We don’t deny that the bloody industry history splashed on the big screen in the “Blood Diamond” movie has brought untold numbers of new customers to join our 5A diamond-quality CubicZirconia.com CZ movement instead of buying a mined, natural diamond.
Many future brides will see that movie and ASK for a diamond-alternative engagement ring (especially when the two of you together tally up what else you can buy with the savings of ethically-produced 5A cubic zirconia engagement ring from CubicZirconia.com instead of a visually identical diamond engagement ring that may have spiritual blood stains).
Many customers already have done so in the last 15 years.
Indeed, our business exists in part to provide customers an easy, inexpensive way to say “no more!” to ‘blood diamonds’.
Do you put your money where your mouth is? Do you profit from natural mined diamonds?
Frankly, the couple who own the CubicZirconia.com business have never dealt and will never deal in large natural, mined diamond stones.The primary reason is simple and has already been noted: as far as we can tell, there are no easily verifiable ways to discern that such natural diamond stones weren’t polished with blood.
If we can’t be 100% certain where a diamond originates, how it got to the marketplace, and what it cost in terms of human rights and life to get there…we don’t want to touch it. Life is too short to make money on misery.NO: we DO NOT profit from natural mined diamonds.
We are fundamentally against the horrible human and environmental consequences that come from the mining and sale of genuine diamonds and genuine diamond jewelry.
We could always do more, but yes we are a proud supporter of the international effort to stop blood diamonds
- And we truly also believe we are helping promote peace by selling “conflict-free” jewelry at exceptional prices.
But isn’t a diamond still expected?Yes, diamonds are beautiful.
Yes, diamonds are still expected.
You really can’t escape that (though you can easily pass off a substitute).
But until there’s a sure way of knowing for certain that a diamond you’re planning to purchase to become a “family legacy” to be passed on from you to your children and your children’s children is NOT a blood diamond or a conflict diamond -- one that was brought into the light of the earth’s surface from the depths of some obscure African mine at the cost of slavery, murder and even genocide-- we give natural diamonds a firm “NO”.And if you’ve read this far with us today, likely you will do so, too.
Yes, social pressure may tell us that "a diamond is a girl's best friend."
But today’s man is getting engaged to a woman, and not a girl.
She is modern: smart, educated, independent and informed.And if she cares about the planet and her fellow human beings, let’s give her the chance to say so with her words and her money.
Thanks for giving us a bit of your time today, dear reader.
When you make a choice to go with cubic zirconia jewelry from CubicZirconia.com, you will know where the product originated, and who made it.
Our finished jewelry is proudly made in the United States, by artisans in good working conditions, with good pay.
We hope you consider perhaps choosing a high-quality precious metal cubic zirconia jewelry item for your next sparkly spend. We’re a pretty great choice if you’re seeking a high-quality engagement ring or multi-ring bridal set with pure 950 platinum, 10k-18k gold (white gold / rose gold / yellow gold) or .925 sterling silver. We’re also makers and sellers of earrings, pendants and some bracelets.We stand by our product materials, design, production and marketing with a strong guarantee and lifetime warranty.
We do these things because when we design, make and sell our CZ engagement rings, and other high-quality cubic zirconia jewelry, we know that we’re contributing to your legacy of love, family, and the stories you are going to create together.
We want our customers to enjoy his or her jewelry piece now and for years to come, happy with every aspect of its appeal (including the product’s ethical footprint as it relates to human rights and the environment).
Truthfully, the advantages of 5A cubic zirconia over natural diamonds is such that in our opinion the day is coming when customers will brag about CZ as a choice, in the same way that many informed, thoughtful people proudly wear faux fur, or use repurposed ivory.But that day is not quite here, yet.
Mr. Cubic Zirconia
And for that reason, we won’t be offended if a new customer buys our product and pretends it’s a 'real' diamond. After all, we kind of created this whole industry designed to show off “The Diamond Mystique”-- just for much, much less money.