Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Blood Diamonds, Blood Gemstones

Blood Diamonds, Blood Gemstones
by Richard W. Wise 2006

The much feared, long anticipated movie Blood Diamond opened
December 8th and has succeeded in resurrecting the debate about the
use of diamonds to finance armed conflict in Africa. Numerous media
outlets have done features on conflict diamonds and the industry is
nervously chewing its fingernails waiting to see o what extent the
negative fallout will impact Christmas sales.

Blood Diamond is a fairly well crafted action-adventure flick set in
the West African country of Sierra Leone and features Leonardo
DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Housoun. DiCaprio plays the
cynical diamond smuggler, Connelly an idealistic but tough-minded
reporter with azure eyes to die for and Housoun the part of Solomon
Vandy, a simple fishermen who, along with his son Dia, is forced into
slavery in the diamond fields; Soloman finds a big rock and the
action begins. DiCaprio wants the diamond, Connelly a story and the
fisherman wants to retrieve his son who has been turned into a child

Some reviewers have had difficulty seeing the good looking DiCaprio
in a tough-guy role. I have no such difficulty. DiCaprio doesn’t
overplay it. He displays just the right combination of
punky-arrogance and fits the part well. As for Connelly’s character,
a lonely expat’s dream, I met my dream one night years ago in Kowloon
and will never forget the night.

The locales fairly reek of authenticity. Speaking as one who has
been there, I can say that the film suceeds in capturing the real
look and feel of real gem workings and the back-alley hubbub of
boom-town commerce as it exists today in many places, not only in
Africa but in Southeast Asia and South America as well. For a look a
the real thing see my Ruby Boomtown:

Although Blood or conflict diamonds have been a front burner issue
for several years, diamonds are not the only gemstone or the only
commodity used to exploit and enslave our fellow man. If you drink
Florida orange juice, eatin Burmese sugar, buy Chinese products, wear
Egyptian cotton or eat chocolate, according to the 2002 issue of
National Geographic, you may be funding human misery.

The U. S. currently imposes economic embargos on goods made in a
number of nations, North Korea, Iran, Burma, in an attempt to
economically throttle these malignant and repressive dictatorships.
Does it do any good? Those who advocate the use of economic sanctions
point to the experience in South Africa where a worldwide boycott,
that somehow did not inclued diamonds, contributed to the fall of the
white minority regime and the end of Apartheid. Others are not so

Take Burma, a country that I have visited several times. The Burmese
army has insinuated itself into and exerts a degree of control over
all alspects of gem production from mining to cutting to
distribution. Syndicates in which the generals are full partners,
control all the larger mines in Mogok, the old ruby producing area of
Upper Burma. If you are involved in large scale mining in Burma, you
are in business with the army. However, much of the mining and more
than half of the gemstones are produced by small-scale Mom and Pop
opoerations that fly beneath the government’s radar. A sucessful
boycott may hurt the bad guys but it will also have a devastating
effect on small business as well. The General’s may have to cut back
on their caviar ration but the little guy may literally starve.

“While Burma’s gem mines are nominally under the control of the
military, the very nature of gem mining means that the lion’s share
of production is smuggled out by freebooters. Funds from these
smuggled goods sustain both odinary miners a.nd traders, as well as
rebel armies fighting against the Burmese military.” Richard Hughes

“Legal” gems are auctioned every year at the government-sponsored
emporium. At the event held this October over a thousand merchants
from twelve countries attended the event. Myanmar started to hold
these gem shows in 1964 and since then the government has grossed 600
million dollars.

Part of the reason why the anti-aparthieid boycott suceeded in South
Africa was that the boycott embarrassed the white power structure.
White South Africans are culturally European and were shamed by their
European and American cousins. These same countries were also South
Africa’s main trading partners. Burma’s main trading partners are
India and China and the generals have demonstrated that they simply
don’t care what Europe and America thinks.


I saw the movie last night, very good, unfortunately. Don’t take your
kids it is very violent and bloody. I was upset at how the movie
tended to make it appear that the war was over the diamonds. Not a
cival war that the rebels were using the diamonds to buy weapons to
fight the existing government The average citizen is not going to
catch or understand the difference. But I suppose if they are too
average to understand that they probably won’t care either. Maybe I
should stop worring about it, and I am not going to mention to my
customers that alot of other gemstones have similar problems at their
source. But a nice big list of other products that we all use that
cause misery around world might be worth mentioning. Oil should be at
the top of the list. Oil was mentioned in the movie but it was
subtitled, as the character was speaking another language. Wonder how
many of my " average " people missed that too.

John Wade
Wade Designs

I’ve actually sold a lot of synthetic/simulant stones because of the
issues with ‘blood gemstones’.

I wonder if the movie portrayed the situation correctly based on
what goes on at the local level (control of the diamonds) as opposed
to the ‘big picture’ of what is done with the money from sold

I haven’t seen the movie yet but want to.



I saw the movie last night, very good, unfortunately. Don't take
your kids it is very violent and bloody. I was upset at how the
movie tended to make it appear that the war was over the diamonds.
Not a cival war that the rebels were using the diamonds to buy
weapons to fight the existing government The average citizen is not
going to catch or understand the difference. 

Wars are often about greed so I am sure that things get pretty mixed
up when someone finds something that is worth more money than he has
ever seen.

In our advanced culture greed, like meat in a supermarket has been
sanitized its about who gets to be a billionaire we often don’t
immediately see the effects since most of us have enough to eat and a
roof over our heads. In third world countiries the difference between
having a dollar or not will often make the difference between
starvation and your next meal.