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Blood Diamonds

was “Orchid member on TV news”

I could not agree more about not taking this out on your local
jeweler /diamond merchant. I also agree that the way De Beers and the
Diamond Syndicate conduct business is a big part of the problem. It
is also true that the diamond trade is not supply / demand based. In
fact site holders are given a parcel and it is a take it or leave it
proposition. If you leave it you will probably lose your site. All
this is true but it is still a customer demand business. If no one
wanted to buy diamonds there would be no one for the salesmen to sell
to. It is as simple as that. The whole idea of "A Diamond is forever"
and “Diamonds are a girls best friend” is a well ran all be it a very
expensive marketing campaign. I wonder how many Diamonds De Beers
could sell if the truth of the diamonds mystic was shown to be the
colossal fraud that it is. Diamond is carbon based Carbon same as
coal, graphite, or even charcoal, and most all life forms on this
planet. With out carbon we would not exist therefore it must be
plentiful. In GE’s Labs they have made diamonds out of such things as
peanut butter. When was the last time you paid $1,200.00 a carat for
a second or third rate peanut butter, or charcoal. The only true
value of a diamond is in its industrial applications. What can you do
with say I 5 to 10 Carat Flawless diamond. Can you readily convert it
to cash at full retail value? What happens to its’ value if tomorrow
the Diamond Syndicate and De Beers both fall and the Diamond goes to
a true supply and demand base? As long as there is an artificial
value placed on this mineral, and as long as a person can make money
smuggling, stealing, or even legitimately selling this mineral the
bloody and negative activities surrounding the acquisition of
diamonds will continue. Maybe at 63 years of age I’m becoming the
discontented personage that attached itself to the baby boomers. You
know the “make love not war” types. The Lost Generation, I didn’t
belong to it then, in the 60’s, I was off serving my country. But now
the bug has bit. Just throwing out to see if anyone bites. To all of
you depending on your faith. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanuka, a Joyous
Kwanzaa or just have a Cool Joel.

John (Jack) Sexton

Article on conflict diamonds in New York Times:

Diamonds Are for Never?
By Mireya Navarro

  MONICA GIBSON says she is not particularly political, but when
  she heard about conflict diamonds on an episode of "The Oprah
  Winfrey Show" last week featuring the cast and director of the
  new movie "Blood Diamond," she looked down at her engagement
  ring and thought not of love but of wars and violence. 

  Her fiance gave her the ring last summer, she said, and she
  may never find out where its 24 diamonds came from. But as the
  couple now shops for diamond wedding bands, Ms. Gibson said
  she won't buy unless the jeweler can vouch not just for the
  stone's cut, clarity and color, but also for its origin. 

  "So many times you feel helpless when it comes to these major
  issues," said Ms. Gibson, 36, an administrator with a
  telephone carrier in Pittsburgh. "I will feel I had some small
  little piece in helping people somewhere." 

  With interest in the origin of diamonds fueled by a new
  Hollywood movie that denounces the practices of the diamond
  industry, and an advertising counterattack by that industry,
  customers like Ms. Gibson are asking more questions about the
  iconic symbol of eternal love. 

  The terms "conflict diamonds" or "blood diamonds" refer to
  gems that have been used by rebel groups to pay for wars that
  have killed and displaced millions of people in Africa, the
  source of an estimated 65 percent of the world's diamonds. The
  diamond industry maintains it has safeguards to guarantee most
  rough diamonds come from areas free of violent conflict
  through the Kimberley Process, a tracking system implemented
  in 2003. 

  But critics say there's no independent oversight of the
  industry's monitoring and that conflict diamonds still make
  their way to the marketplace. The issue is trickling down to
  stores and bridal Web sites as the news media, Hollywood stars
  and rap songs delve into the subject. 

  "It's unconscionable for us for the sake of vanity to
  contribute to the destruction of a country," said a bling-free
  Jennifer Connelly late last month at the New York premiere of
  "Blood Diamond," which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon
  Hounsou. "So I think trying to make more effective the system
  of warranties is a pretty clear choice." 

  More people are tuning in, said Carley Roney, editor in chief
  of, a wedding Web site. "There's extensive
  discussion going on our message boards," she said. "Many women
  are saying, 'This is supposed to be a symbol of all things
  good and I don't want to look down on my finger and think of
  women and children being killed.' It undermines the entire
  meaning of that ring." 

  There is no evidence yet of consumer flight from diamonds.
  Sales of diamond jewelry in the United States have been
  rising, by 7 percent last year to $33.7 billion. American
  purchasers account for half the world's $60 billion in annual
  retail sales. A pop quiz among users over the last
  week found a majority of respondents unaware of the term
  "conflict-free diamond." 

  Shane Dunleavy, 23, was among the customers last week in the
  jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles, where
  engagement-ring holiday shopping was in full swing. Mr.
  Dunleavy, accompanied by his parents, was seeking a
  princess-cut diamond. He had not heard of the debate, but his
  father had. "It's like oil," Jim Dunleavy, 57, said with a
  shrug. "You're still going to buy oil." 

  But other consumers are doing research and reacting
  accordingly. Some jewelers said people have made it clear they
  want only conflict-free diamonds and have asked where the
  stones sold at retail were mined. 

  Abigail Levine, 27, a program director with nonprofit
  organizations in Columbus, Ohio, said that while shopping for
  a ring last September, she and her fiance agreed they could do
  better with their money than to spend it on a diamond. 

  "We know diamond companies have marketed this concept of a
  diamond engagement ring," Ms. Levine said. "We didn't want to
  buy into that concept. It's a huge manipulation, really." 

  But in the end, even Ms. Levine could not resist, and two
  small diamonds flank her blue sapphire. "We're not purists
  about it," she said. "We just didn't want to support the
  diamond industry in such a big way." 

  Bridal experts say the preference for diamonds will surely
  endure because of aesthetic and cultural factors. But at the
  same time, many brides have been emphasizing individuality by
  forgoing the traditional for the unique or cool, experts said,
  and some have ditched the diamond altogether for a colored gem
  like a pink or blue sapphire. Other customers shun diamonds
  from Africa in favor of diamonds from Canada, antique diamonds
  or synthetic stones. 

  lso, many of today's couples are expressing social
  consciousness in the way they plan their weddings by, for
  example, asking for donations to a charity in lieu of
  presents. These same couples, the experts note, are likely to
  care about the provenance of their diamonds. 

  "In general, more people have a greater sense of the world
  around them and how their actions affect that world," said
  Millie Martini Bratten, the editor in chief of Brides
  magazine. She said there's an attitude "not to have a wedding
  that's all about me." 

  "Blood Diamond" depicts how diamond companies ignored
  atrocities committed in the 1990's by rebels in Sierra Leone
  who sold rough diamonds to buy arms. The World Diamond
  Council, which represents producers and dealers, has responded
  with ads and a Web site, The council
  stresses that more than 99 percent of diamonds now come from
  conflict-free sources, and that diamond revenue today is
  mostly used in African countries for health care, education
  and other benefits. 

  "You're looking at a very, very small percentage of the world
  supply that can be considered to be from a conflict zone,"
  said Carson Glover, a spokesman for the World Diamond Council.
  "Consumers can feel very confident in their diamond purchase."
  But international human rights groups like Amnesty
  International and Global Witness, which first publicized the
  issue of conflict diamonds in 1998, say dirty diamonds still
  reach the market because of smuggling and weak controls by
  some producing countries, and that consumers have no surefire
  way of telling if a diamond is clean. 

  A spokeswoman for Global Witness noted diamonds are still
  coming from conflict areas like the Ivory Coast, and that a
  recent General Accounting Office report found fault with the
  way the United States was enforcing the tracking system. (The
  organization's Web site is 

  Tom Zoellner, who researched the industry for his book "The
  Heartless Stone" (St. Martin's Press, 2006), said the
  Kimberley Process doesn't concern itself with objectionable
  practices like the use of child labor in India, where most
  diamonds are polished. But he said because many Africans
  depend on them for their livelihood, a boycott is not the
  answer. The best defense against dirty diamonds, he said, is
  to ask questions. 

  Rights groups suggest going to retailers who can show a
  guarantee that the diamonds are conflict free. 

  Most stores don't have a policy, a survey by the human rights
  groups showed. Some jewelers don't consider it their job to
  know the origin of their stones. "I'm not here to save the
  world," said Raymond Moutran, a jeweler for 27 years in the
  Los Angeles jewelry district. "I'm here to make life

  "One guy wanted to know if the diamond was from Africa and
  whether it was from an area where people are tortured," Mr.
  Moutran said. "I said, 'I don't know.' He didn't buy. I don't
  need to lie to make a living." 

  Another longtime jeweler, Russ Varon, the chief financial
  officer of Morgan's Jewelers in Torrance and Palos Verdes,
  Calif., said most of the stores' diamonds come from African
  mines through cutters in Israel, and that about two years ago
  invoices from his suppliers started showing up with a
  statement saying they are conflict free. 

  But Mr. Varon acknowledged that this document is no guarantee.
  "I truly don't know the story of what's going on over there,"
  he said. 

  Last Sunday, Mary Alice Borello, 53, walked into the Morgan's
  in Torrance looking for a 25th wedding anniversary present.
  She and her husband, David, left with a gold band with two
  carats' worth of channel-set diamond baguettes. She didn't ask
  questions about global conflicts. 

  "The question is, should we be concerned as consumers," Mrs.
  Borello, a playground supervisor from Redondo Beach, Calif.,
  said later. "You'd hope that people who are in the jewelry
  business would only purchase their diamonds in a legitimate
  way. That's what I would expect from them." 

  More education is needed all around, Ms. Roney of
  said. Even among those who care about diamond origin, some
  assume, incorrectly, that any diamond from Africa is dirty. 

  Knowledge sometimes come in funny ways. Lorne Walker and
  Laurel Greenidge of Seattle, both 26, said they heard of
  conflict diamonds in 2004 from a comedy-club routine by Bill
  Maher. Ms. Greenidge, who works for a publishing company,
  researched the issue and was horrified by accounts of diamonds
  being used to pay for wars. 

  When Mr. Walker, a medical student, went ring shopping, he
  knew it would be "a conscience issue" for his fiancee, he
  said. He bought a Canadian diamond with a certificate. 

  The couple married in August. "I didn't want to look down at my
  ring every day and wonder did it support the death of somebody
  faraway or was it mined by someone who's underage and should be
  in school," Ms. Greenidge said. "When I look at it, I think of
  our relationship and love and happiness and ever after."
So if you want to point a bloody finger at the real culprit, look
to the folks at DeBeers. 

Well, at least some of that was true… DeBeers doesn’t have US
offices because we do not permit monopolies - they violate US
antitrust laws…

Conflict diamonds are sold outside the DeBeers supply chain, BTW.
They are contraband, mostly stolen.

I’m not going to defend them. They are indeed ruthless and all that.
Just like GM, Toyota, Exxon, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills,
George Bush, and your local car dealer.

By all accounts I’ve heard the whole issue of conflict diamonds is
largely past. The main perpetrators on a large scale have been dealt
with. That is to say, the large-scale things that were happening, and
by all accounts I’ve heard. I haven’t actuallly been there… I did
an interview with the president of Botswana just last week - a very
intelligent, reasonable man. He said that diamonds fund 80% of his
country’s health care, education, and infrastructure in a legitimate,
legal, and businesslike manner. That they are one of the most
successful democracies in Africa is pretty well known. He was a major
player in drafting The Kimberly Process, too.

Very good piece on “blood diamonds”. There is also the issue of the
environment. How about cyanide used in the production of gold…we
could all wax eloquent of the travesties done in the production of
ANYTHING. As was said, it is a hollywood hype piece (with I am sure a
lot of truth) done in the usual Hollywood style. If only they would
do such a hollywood production on the peace makers in the world…the
Holy ones, and the wise elders of this world who work toward the good
of man. Greed does run the world, doesn’t it?


I really wish everyone would try to stay current on their
statements. Things that once were change over time. It’s important to
read everything possible to stay on top of what is happening in

In fact site holders are given a parcel and it is a take it or
leave it proposition. 

This is no longer true and hasn’t been for a number of years.
DeBeers moved away from this system quite awhile ago. DeBeers
currently controls less than 60% of the world’s diamond market.
Despite this prices have not moved down because the pricing structure
benefits all of the world’s diamond producers, including Canada and

The only true value of a diamond is in its industrial applications. 

Sure enough, but the only true value of gold or platinum is in its
industrial applications as well, but that isn’t how people perceive
it. And value is all about perception. I mean look at how many people
went out and bought rocks when some guy came up with the idea of Pet

Can you readily convert it to cash at full retail value? 

What is it that you can buy anywhere that you can readily convert to
cash at full retail value? I don’t know of anything that is “readily”
(count out property with that statement) that is sold at retail that
can later be converted back into full retail value. The fact of that
matter is that a lot of diamonds are readily convertible into cash.
There are companies all around me who will buy your diamonds for
cash. Will you get full retail value? Maybe if the piece was
purchased 20 years ago. Usually not, but then what can you buy that
you will get back full retail value?

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

For decades now, DeBeers has controlled every aspect of the world
diamond markets. And truth be known, there is not a diamond
producing location on the face of the earth that is not under some
kind of pressure from DeBeers and their world domination. 

I am sorry but this is just not true.

Canada, Russia, and Australia have all been mining and producing
finished diamonds since the mid-1900s without any DeBeers

If DeBeers were such a monster company why would Nelson Mandela write
an open letter to the American Jewelry Industry which was published
JCK magazine in the late 1990s urging manufacturers to NOT boycott
them surrounding this issue.

It seem DeBeers provides work at a living wage for a large percentage
of South Africa’s indigenous population.

Taxes paid by DeBeers to the government of South Africa also supports
infrastructure such as hospitals, roads, and schools.

Also, DeBeers diamonds are primarily from kimberlite deposits whereas
the diamonds from Sierra Leone where the mutilation and civil war
happened are known to be alluvial. And less than 0.2% of world

And perhaps you are too young to remember the situation in the 1950s
when UNICEF sent health workers into several Africa countries to
inoculate the children against polio. The tribal leaders in some
areas felt threatened by the white health workers and chopped off the
arm of every child who had gotten a polio inoculation.

Just as horrible, but it was not DeBeers fault either.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228

And what of dictatorship rubies from Burma? Or slave labor and child
labor gem-cutting?

IMO, the fallacy of the “blood diamond” is that it presents the
phenomenon of exploitation, death and misery as peculiar to African
diamonds and not an issue to be addressed within the gemstone
business as a whole.


“… by ambition blood or lust Like diamonds we are cut with our own

The Duchess of Malfi
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Having just reread my posting yesterday on this subject I realized I
garbled some of my second paragraph. I am a stickler for correct
language usage and grammar and I apologize. The nonstop 12 hour
workdays of the last two weeks appears to have caught up with my
brain. And here I am again at the crack of dawn trying to get to the
bench since I’m running out of time on all those Christmas orders
(and the pile just never seems to be getting smaller–every time I
finish one, I either get another one in or I get the metal in for
one that has to go into the work pile).

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

I haven’t had anyone ask me about this. In fact the other day I
volunteered that the stones I was using for the customer’s project
were “conflict free”. To which she responded, “what’s that?”

There might be a parallel to ‘diamond switching’. You know, it hits
the media, maybe somebody gets arrested or sued, but is there really
a discernable impact on business?

I dunno, maybe I just have an honest face.

Can you readily convert it to cash at full retail value?

What is it that you can buy anywhere that you can readily convert
to cash at full retail value?

I love it when someone cuts to the heart of the hype this way. It
reminds me of when I was in 7th grade and a speaker at my school
said “the death rate for asthmatics who smoke is 100%”. I was agog
until my older sister (the asthmatic) pointed out that the death
rate for everyone is 100%.


With all respect, Nanz, but I must disagree with you on certain
points you have made.

The Canadian, Russian and Australian operations were not willing to
work under the De Beers business plan. It made more sense to go on
their own, and as such, realize larger profits and less restrictions
than De Beers demanded of them. I know that’s a generalization, but
essentially that’s what happened

Mandela did not suddenly have the urge to throw his weight behind
the diamond industry et al. Rather, I think, subtle suggestions from
the powers of De Beers and government suggested that it might be in
the interests of the Southern African diamond industry, and by
default, the common worker in the mines, to stop the bleeding of
control that de Beers had at that time over the diamond industry. His
reason was humanitarian, theirs was business.

You are completely correct in saying that De Beers provides a living
wage for their workers. Just that and no more. The depressive hostels
that they live in defies belief. Lock downs lock ups and their own
’security force’ that brook no argument. For the average worker, the
salary he gets paid does not allow him to save, or buy a SUV, or a
TV. Rather that salary allows him or her to live a bleak life and
sent a pittance to their families far away. And believe me, diamond
mines, be they kimberlitic or alluvial, are bleak places.

De Beers do not pay taxes in support of roads, hospitals and schools
unless it affects their mining operations. They pay as little tax as
possible and in fact still export their rough out of Southern Africa
under a preferential agreement much in their favour. This is now
under intense review by the South African government. But they are
experts at the sideways slip, and they are clever and tenacious. They
have to be. They would not be where they are if they were stupid.

In 1948 when the Nationalist party came into power, they and Be
Beers set about crafting diamond laws that were amongst the most
repressive in the world. Up until to today. I will not dwell on the
gold laws, but give you a brief window of IDB

IDB —those three letters. Illicit Diamond Buying. That phrase. The
cause of untold misery. Turning honest people into criminals by
entrapment. The buying of uncut diamonds was and still is completely
illegal in South Africa and Botswana. Unless you have a permit. In
early years that permit was simply unobtainable and still is almost
impossible to obtain even now. The Gold and Diamond branch ( of the
South African Police) has a special bunch of very unsavoury
characters that would offer uncut diamonds to a person who was not
necessarily criminal but maybe a chancer or in financial trouble or
simply unaware of the ramifications. The resultant court case and
convictions resulted in many innocent families destroyed and careers
ruined. Compliments of De Beers and their crafted laws…

You are right in saying that limbs were not cut off because of Be
Beers. That was tribal warfare, xenophobia, ideology and a myriad of
other reasons. Diamonds were, however, were an essential lubricant to
the machetes that did the cutting.

De Beers morphed into the company they are now not because they
suddenly had a moral guilt attack. They did so because of the market
share that they were loosing against the competition…

They did not start an anti Aids program because they suddenly felt a
religious conviction to help their fellow man. They did so because it
was affecting their bottom line. Debswana offers all their HIV
positive employees and spouses, children and previous employees life
time supply of Anti Retro virals. The reason is simple At one time
they were hiring three people for one job. Two of them were ‘spare
tires’ to replace those that were sure to die of aids. That,
cynically, is more expensive than a generic ARV supply.

Let me, if I may, point out just one fact found (there are many
others) on ( a weasel word pro De Beers site)

I lived in Botswana for 13 years and ‘fact no 5’ says that all
Botswana children receive free schooling from six years and continues
through out primary education.

Rubbish. All my sales ladies that I employed had to buy school
uniforms, pay school fees, buy books, stationary and generally act as
if there was not a diamond in their life. There no doubt are schools
that are sponsored but to imply that diamonds give free education
country wide is simply untrue and a shinning example of the slimy
and clever way that De Beers is able to manipulate its way out of a
tight corner

Let me say that I don’t think De Beers is any different now than any
oth= er multi national. They do what they do best. Make money.
Hysterical shrieking does not change that fact. I would do the same
were I them. They made and promoted a giant industry, one of which I
am part of, and for that matter, quite happy to be part of

However, their history is less than savory, and that they are trying
to advertise away with this pseudo, bunny hugging ‘Kimberly

I would like to ask only one question to these proponents of this

If a conflict diamond is identified as being such, what happens to
it then?

Cheers, Hans Meevis


I haven't had anyone ask me about this. In fact the other day I
volunteered that the stones I was using for the customer's project
were "conflict free". To which she responded, "what's that?" 

You’re either lucky or in a red state. Not a day goes by anymore
that I don’t get someone in who is having a problem over diamonds.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

You're either lucky or in a red state 

It’d be interesting if there was some study that analyzed conflict
concern by region/state/socio-economic whatevers. Be good if they
also quantified actual sales lost or made specifically on the issue.

Blue. So much for assumptions.

Blue. So much for assumptions.

Ah. That means you’re lucky then. It would be interesting to see
stuff broken down by area but I think you will tend to find more
politically active people in communities like mine than many others
and you could pretty much assume that conflict concern would be
higher here. Additionally, because of all the universities here we
have a much younger population than other areas and younger people
tend to be more activist in general. I’m unclear whether I’ve
actually lost any sales because of it, but it has become a factor in
daily conversations.

But people’s morals are pretty flexible. I had a couple in recently
and she had all kinds of problems with diamonds in her engagement
ring–didn’t like De Beers, was concerned about conflict, etc. So we
spent a whole lot of time picking out orange sapphires (small ones)
for her ring. They placed the order. Later that day the guy comes
back and says: I was just talking to my aunt about the ring and she
said she had a diamond ring that we could have and use for an
engagement ring so we want to stop the order and put the money
towards our wedding bands. I looked at him and said: But I thought
she couldn’t deal with wearing any diamonds??? He said: Well it’s
and there she was wearing about a 3/4 ct. diamond ring. And since it
wasn’t a new stone, who knows how many people were underpaid,
underfed, abused or mistreated to produce that stone. Like I
said–flexible morals.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140