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Conflict free diamonds certification

Hi all-

I’ve been wanting to use non-conflict diamonds with a certification
for some time now- but haven’t found any suppliers.

I’ve been reading about Canadian diamonds- but it seems they are
having some issues as well.

All comments on this on-going issue are appreciated

Rona Fisher

Hello, My name is Stephen

I deal in rough and polished and have traveled extensively in
pursuit of my material. Can you explain for me what exactly you are
looking for?

Do you want K. P. Certs’? or do you “not” want them. Not all diamond
producing countries cause wars over their diamonds, but then again
"some do".

Do you want rough or polished?

Are you doing little money or big money?

Just asking questions to try to help you in this area.

Later, Stephen
Stephen Wyrick, CMBJ

I believe that most legitimate diamond dealers will give you a
certificate/statement indicating that they are following the proper
protocols put in place. Just ask them.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.

Rona - i would like to say that the only totally assurable & ultimate
conflict free diamond is one that is man made they are available
through morion company in new england some place try google. my
problem with the whole issue is this problem is this 99% of customers
say they want a conflict free diamond but when you present the
customer with the idea of taking advantage of technology from an
intelectual stand point, man made diamond they choke !! the
commitment from the consumer to put thier money where thier mouth is
just not there. even on the orchid list there are lots of experts
they know who they are who dont want to see technology of lab created
and synthetics gain a foothold in peoples emotional psyche because of
the mystery and allure of the gem world and the money they would lose
out on ! bottom line is tis the average consumer wants you to assure
them its all peachy and wonderfull and they can pay you to" carry the
guilt for them " in other words they want you to do the lying… for
a price ! i personally refuse to do this so i sell lots fewer
diamonds !!! - goo

I believe that most legitimate diamond dealers will give you a
certificate/statement indicating that they are following the
proper protocols put in place. Just ask them. 

Most of the people who are handling diamonds know that Kimberly
process, aka conflict free certification, has been a failure, and
there is no way to know where the diamonds are coming from. This is
a proverbial fig leaf put in front of the public not to offend the
sensibilities, but behind the scene, the real story is well known.
If idea of conflict diamond bothering your client, offer something
else instead.

Leonid Surpin

Acutally, now when you buy diamonds the dealer has a notice on their
invoice that the diamonds have been tracked and are conflict free.
Their is a company in south africa that owns their own mine and cuts
their own diamonds; you can buy from them and not that to worry at
all. You really don’t need to woryy anymore but at least this way you
can tell your customers that they are in fact conflict free. Many
african countries depend on the sale of their diamonds for income.
south africa has come a long way in helping all of their citezens
reap the rewards good luck, d

Dennis do you have more about diamonds from South Africa?
I am not clear you are talking about the country in general or
individual companies/dealers. I personally have reservations about
diamonds not just because of their origin, but also because I have
heard that sometime child labor is used to cut the stones. Is there
anyway to verify that child labor was not used?

Melissa Stenstrom

Hello Orchid,

I recently read a disturbing report on the Kimberly Process from the
NGO Partnership Africa Canada (PAC). It came to my attention through
one of the National Jeweler news blasts. I am not an expert on this
subject by any means, but the in the report really makes
me worry about the effectiveness of the KP.

Is there another side to this report? I don’t know… -But the ethics
of our industry are becoming more and more of an issue for our
customers (and us) and I think being aware is important.

Here’s the National Jeweler blog:

The PAC report can be downloaded here:

Jenny Sweaney from Mardon Jewelers

I recently read a disturbing report on the Kimberly Process from
the NGO Partnership Africa Canada (PAC). It came to my attention
through one of the National Jeweler news blasts. 

Okay I want everyone on Orchid to throw away their computers. Why,
you might ask? Because all of your computers use a material called
tantalum in them (your cell phones do too). Why is that a problem?
Because more people die every year trying to find and mine the stuff
than have ever died from conflict diamonds (and it gets worse every
year because demand keeps rising). Oh. I’m sorry. It’s ok to have a
material in your computers and cell phones that kills people but not
your jewelry?

Ok, let’s not use our cars either. Why? Because a whole lot of people
have died over the ownership of oil. Oh my. We’ll have to stop
heating our homes too. Or is that ok because it’s a necessity? It’s
only a necessity because we won’t all move to warmer climates. Is a
car a necessity? Using oil heat in our homes? Why does it make it
better because it’s a necessity for US??? How about the people who
are dying because of it? It certainly isn’t better for them.

And while we’re at it, let’s stop buying colored stones because it
simply isn’t fair that miners in third world countries should be
earning so little. So let’s take away their ability to earn that and
have them earn NOTHING per day. That is SURELY going to make their
lives better.

Listen up people. There has to be a balance in our lives. Not
everything we do will be perfect. Not everything we do will be great
for everyone. The best you can hope for is that some things will
improve if you make minor improvements as best you can. Is the
Kimberly Process perfect? No. No better solution that could be
accepted generally has been suggested however and simply buying
colored stones doesn’t resolve the imperfections (most third world
mining operations are pretty horrible). Go ahead and stop buying
diamonds if that makes you feel good. But then take some
responsibility for what will happpen to countries like Botswana
(highest standard of living and highest education level in
Africa----and all because of the diamond trade) when you stop. Stop
buying products from overseas where the pay is so low. But then take
responsibility for the people who will no longer have ANY wage.

I am constantly amazed at how many people will walk into my store and
ask if I have conflict free diamonds and when they walk out they get
into their big SUV’s and drive off. How many people died for them to
have those monstrous, gas guzzling, eco crushing vehicles?

And how many of you are reading this email on a computer–that uses a
material that people are dying in order to find for YOU??? How does
that make YOU feel?

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC

Dear Daniel,

Thank you so much for being the voice of reason. I have lived
overseas for 22 years and am constantly amazed at the views of
people who have lived in their comfortable Canadian and American
homes trying to be “politically correct” while never understanding
that some money is always better then no money. Who will feed their
kids when no one buys the things that are slightly questionably made.
There was a woman who moved here last year for the first time
working abroad who said she would not buy a carpet when she visited
Nepal because she heard they used children to weave the carpets. I
know very well that she could of gone to the actual Tibetan carpet
factory and seen the adults who were doing the weaving and helped
their situation by buying a carpet. Please keep being the person who
keeps up the naive at bay.

Sharron in Dhaka

The original question was how to be sure that diamonds are conflict
free. If client asks for a conflict free diamond, regardless of
personal views, to sell him a diamond which may or may not be
"conflict free" is, to put it mildly, a violation of business
ethics. Kimberly process exists to give jewelers plausible
deniability. It is in no way a guaranty that diamond is conflict
free. All other issues that Daniel raised are simply immaterial.
Jewellery business is all about trust. Knowingly to sell a diamond,
which may have a history, that client does not want to have any
association with, is a violation of the trust.

Suppose client does buy the diamond which was certified conflict
free, and in a year, the truth about Kimberly process becomes known
to the public; what’s then? She cannot wear the ring any longer.
There may be a legal jeopardy for a jeweler. Ignorance of
inefficiency of Kimberly process is very weak defense, especially
when there is so much written about it… Civil complains are usually
phrased “the defendant knew or should have known”. It is “should have
known” part that is the most difficult to defend against.

Leonid Surpin

Concerned about conflict diamonds? Please read this for a reality
check. Richard Hart, G.G.,

Some Thoughts on the JADE Act
Don Kay (October, 2008)

  On July 28, 2003, President George Bush signed into law the
  Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. This act bans the
  importation of any article that is produced, mined, grown,
  manufactured or assembled in Burma. This included precious
  stones, teak and the transmission of natural gas. 

  This law made it impossible for gem dealers (like me) to
  function in Burma or attend Burmese auctions, even though that
  rarely happened. The finest goods have, for thirty years, been
  smuggled out of Burma by opposition groups to the ruling,
  oppressive military junta and made their way to secondary
  markets in China, Thailand and elsewhere. There they were cut,
  polished and processed and that is where I source most of my
  inventory. And, in fact, small merchants and dealers make
  their living by shipping stones out of Burma, in defiance of
  the ruling military. Some of the profits derived from this
  trade fuels groups opposed to the ruling Junta as well as
  helps to support monasteries in Burma. They will suffer under
  the JADE Act, much more than their government will. 

  International trade law frequently carries the provision that
  'substantial transformation' of an item in another country no
  longer makes the item a product of the originating country. It
  is this observation that allowed Belgium to supply the U.S.
  (and the rest of the world) with diamonds from places under
  international embargo, such as South Africa. And it is this
  observation that allows many countries today to cut and polish
  diamonds and sell them in the U.S. while we are asked to
  boycott diamonds from several poor African countries because
  of human rights violations (blood diamonds.) The diamond
  business is flourishing today while operating under a flawed
  system of 'certifying' the origin of diamonds and there is no
  movement afoot to curtail the concept of 'substantial
  transformation' where diamonds are concerned. After all,
  diamonds are big business. 

  In December, 2007, after a bloody crackdown on monks and
  monasteries opposed to the anti-democratic and repressive
  policies of the generals in power, the U.S. Senate and House
  both passed versions of what came to be called the 'Tom Lantos
  JADE Act', which bypasses the 'substantial transformation'
  provision for products of Burma. That meant that all gemstones
  (peridot, spinel, sapphires, rubies and jade), and all forest
  products, in particular, teak, a huge export for Burma, would
  be banned. Most prominently, the $500 million dollar natural
  gas pipeline that Chevron would be operating in Burma would no
  longer be allowed. It didn't matter where you bought these
  products or what manufacturing processes they had undergone
  elsewhere; if the underlying item originated from Burma, it
  was taboo in the U.S. 

  However, the law that actually left conference committee and
  was ratified by both houses and signed into law on July 28,
  2008, is NOT the act proposed in December, 2007. Things have
  changed. The Chevron pipeline (from which the Junta derives
  well over $100 million annually) is just fine. Teak? No
  problem; keep cutting those trees down. And spinel, peridot,
  sapphires? They, too, are OK. Only jade and rubies, the
  smallest revenue producers of all for the Burmese Junta, are
  banned! After all, jade in the U.S. represents less than one
  tenth of one percent of the jewelry market. Jade mainly goes
  from Burma to China, and China will certainly not stop buying
  it. Rubies, although prominent in Burma, can be mined in Sri
  Lanka or Madagascar or many other places. Will this law really
  affect anything at all? Yes, it will completely destroy the
  jade business in the US-and my 32 year old jade import
  business with it, for no discernable benefit. 

  The 2008 JADE Act actually does less harm to the military
  junta than the 2003 law it replaces. Because of all the items
  that were banned in 2003 and are now exempt from embargo, I
  would submit that the new law is weaker and less symbolic of
  our resolve to bring down a government of tyrants. 

  I am in the jade business. There is no lobbyist putting forth
  my interests, and the new form of the Burmese embargo really
  demonstrates, to me, how our system works, or rather, doesn't
  work. Why are we allowing the concept of 'substantial
  transformation' to permit 'blood' diamonds? Because American
  jewelers sell a lot of diamonds and they have political clout.
  Why is Chevron free to line the pockets of the junta? Well,
  it's Chevron, a big and influential business. 

  The stated purpose of the JADE Act is to punish the repressive
  Burmese regime for its crackdown on the demonstrating monks,
  for the continued detention of Au Sang Suu Kyi, and its
  disregard for human rights. Someone should mention that China
  has closed more monasteries in Tibet than the Burmese, and
  killed three times the number of people in the process as
  perished in the recent demonstrations in Burma. The Dalai
  Lama, who is not allowed to return to his homeland by the
  Chinese government, has publicly decried the suspension of
  human rights in Tibet for many years, particularly before the
  Chinese Olympics. Do you see an anti-Chinese embargo on the
  horizon? I don't think Walmart would allow it. The asymmetry
  of this act is disturbing. 

  The JADE Act is an arrow into the heart of my business. Ten
  jobs in Colorado might soon be lost. Will the triviality of
  banning jade and rubies really bring the Junta down? I don't
  think they will even notice. As to the monks themselves, they
  will suffer even more under this embargo because much of their
  support comes from small gem merchants who regularly donate
  alms to their monasteries, and these are the very ones most
  affected by the new law. 

  Don Kay
  The Jade Room
I have lived overseas for 22 years and am constantly amazed at the
views of people who have lived in their comfortable Canadian and
American homes trying to be "politically correct" while never
understanding that some money is always better then no money. 

I agree. Dave Barry once joked that Americans have a can-do attitute
that annoys other countries. Like most humor, it has its basis in

But may I add that there’s a difference between production/sales
that are not sociologically acceptable by the standards of some other
nations, versus sales of a true “conflict” item, producing funds that
back horrible acts of violence, murder.


constantly amazed at the views of people who have lived in their
comfortable Canadian and American homes trying to be "politically

It’s a big deal all over, but nowhere more than here in N. Calif.
College students out on the sidewalks on "stop the sweatshops"
crusades. I know a budding jewelry maker who’s whole business is
built on the Berkeley “sustainable jewelry” market. When I pointed
out to her that all gold, old or new, comes out of the ground she
just shrugged like, “hey, that’s our little secret”. Then again, I
have no problem with trying - it’s better than just raping the earth
at will. Bumper sticker: The Earth isn’t a resource, it’s a planet.

Anyway, I saw an interview with a diplomat from an African country
that I don’t recall, and she said pointedly that the whole
"sweatshops are evil" thing is largely misguided and promoted by
ignorant, naive college students. She also acknowleged that there
are dire problems here and there, but mostly not. She pointed out
that these are actually entry level jobs in the local economy, they
ARE jobs in most cases, and people grow and go on to form their own
small businesses. Basically that much of the “issue” boils down to
ethnocentricity - This is the American model and anything else is
child abuse or exploitation. It was deeper than just that - she
didn’t deny that there still is a dark side, just that Americans
need to get out more before they point fingers. And Daniels little
tirade about wanting some “pure diamond” while driving an Escalade is
right to the point. See Al Gore’s little flick, if you haven’t
already…At least many people are paying attention - wasn’t so
long ago nobody much was.

Thank you Daniel Spirer!

You make very good points, even if they’re controversial, or in the
style of a “devil’s advocate”.

Question: do you NOT use conflict free, or is it just that some
diamonds are conflict free, and some are not? I only have a small
collection of diamonds…small ones that were given to me (probably
not certified) and rose cut colored diamonds (again, not certified).
But I am a small operation…the certified ones will come some day.

i would like to restate that if consumers would “TAKE ADVANTAGE OF
TECHNOLOGY” a large part of this issue could be put to rest with man
made. diamond as gem or man made anything else as gem. but the
CONSUMER wont have a blood free anything !! the consumer wants you to
carry the guilt for them !

As for what spirer said about lots of stuff being conflit he is
correct just tell your so-called conciencious buyer there is more
blood on the gold than there is on the diamond or more blood on the
gasoline in thier Suburban Ussault Vehicle & thier cell phone than
there is on the diamond and watch thier caring little faces get all
twisted up. We as humans on the whole have never evloved past the
willingness to succeed at our fellow humans expense if we could we
would still be selling each other at the public auction block in town
square, but now instead it is done in private and underground, the "
concept of sharecropping " is alive and well.

if you think im full of hot air then you have most likley never
known hunger, hardship and privation even the most most passive
human will break down and committ atrocities to get ahead in life.
best regards goo

I read this post this morning and just have to say something about

people who have lived in their comfortable Canadian and
Americanhomes trying to be "politically correct" while never
understandingthat some money is always better then no money. Who
will feed theirkids when no one buys the things that are slightly
questionably made. 

Believe me, I am no politically correct die hard. BUT, exploitation
is exploitation. It is very hard to know just how “slightly
questionable” the practices are (or are not) for the poor people of
the world, but to say, well, something is better than nothing, is a
cop out.

A dramatic example was made on 60 minutes last night. Very poor
Chinese were reclaiming/recycling our old electronic equipment using
ancient, and very polluting techniques. It was literally killing them
and had made the entire area a health hazard. The US based recycler
was soothing the consumer about the waste by telling them it was
recycled here in the US, safely.

He exploited all of us, rich and poor, along with those in China who
facilitated this exploitation. Greed will never go away. The
interviewer asked a worker, who stated his lungs were burning all the
time, had headaches, and had what appeared to be chemical burns on
his hands, why he did this work. He replied, “the money was good.” Is
this his own fault then = that he is being exploited? That is like
saying the victim is to blame if he allows himself/herself to be
victimized. What they are is vulnerable. The advocate for these
exploited workers made a very compassionate point that a poor person
shouldn’t be forced to choose between their own health and having
food and shelter. Ultimately it is choosing between death now or an
early death later. I never thought I would be defending the
politically correct but I feel this is beyond being politically
correct. It is a matter of compassion. Yeah, I know as Daniel Spirer
stated, a lot of us look like hypocrites in SUVs, but everyone has to
begin somewhere. Everybody has to decide for themselves where to draw
the line. To say throw out your computer, your car, etc., etc.
because all of it destroys something or someone somewhere is a
counterproductive arguement. The task before us can seem
overwhelming. (We are in the process of changing a global paradigm
after all!) Change begins on a personal level, however. Each of us
must do whatever it is we can do, no matter how small or
inconsequential it may appear.

I truly believe that as we know better, we will do better.

Victoria Woollen-Danner

and in a year, the truth about Kimberly process becomes known to
the public; 

What Leonid says is somewhat to the truth, and somewhat not. Since
I’m not an expert on the latest status of the whole thing, I Googled
"kimberly process problems" (w/o quotes). Came up with Amnesty
International, the UN, others. It seems that it’s working pretty
well, in fact. For any who are curious or don’t actually know what
this all means, really, try this very interesting paper:

And their home page has much more, too:

I gather Leonid objects to the process being imperfect, which of
course it is. I don’t know of anything that IS perfect, though. We
do as best as we can with the tools we have, and as the article (and
several others) says, the process has done much - plus much of the
violence that sparked it all just isn’t happening anymore.

But diamonds are only part of the problem - there’s a whole movement
of “sustainable jewelry” which I do not know what means - never saw
anybody planting gold seeds before.

The woman I mentioned today/yesterday only deals in certified
recycled metals, which I guess most refiners do, now. As someone
else mentioned, she uses synthetic diamonds and she only uses
Chatham color. Somebody once said that you are breathing air that
Julius Caesar breathed - the very molecules. Some of that recycled
gold is likely Spanish plunder from the Incan empire… It’s the
old “Well, it fell of the truck, so it’s ok”. And my friend is in
the synthetic stone business, which is a niche market at best.

So, what do you do? Al Capone said he robbed banks because that’s
where the money is. All of the precious materials we use are the top
ten list of desirable prospects for theft, with diamonds being #1.
Until all humans are angelic, there will always be stolen, smuggled,
illegal, or somehow tainted materials, even if it’s only 1% of that
recycled gold that some crackhead stole and sold to some reputable
dealer unawares. The answer is that all we can do is the best we
have, and the Kimberly Process is a good start. Disclose, ask
questions, try to be clean and up front with customers. But don’t
kid yourself about all of our precious materials being jerked out of
the ground, often under less than humane circumstances, for
centuries at least. The earth has been poisoned by mercury and
cyanide, people have been murdered or died from unsafe conditions of
all sorts, things have been stolen or hijacked for as long as there
have been precious things. On the other hand you can’t stop using
money because that 20 dollar bill might have been stolen from a gas
station. I for one just try to do good, but I’m not all anal about
it, either. I buy my gold from AFEX, and I assume they have their
act together. I buy my diamonds from sightholders, and I know they
have their act together vis-a-vis the Kimberly Process. Beyond that,
I don’t lose any sleep over it…

The bottom line is not that difficult. How is it different that a
pirate stole some of the silver you are using in the 1700’s, and
killed all aboard, than to have it come from a modern slave-mine, as
in “recycled metal”? Does it really matter that one happened 300
years ago? If you think about the fact that some percentage of your
gold MUST be related to theft/murder/something else nefarious
sometime in history, doesn’t that mean as much as what happened last
week? Or are old dead people somehow more acceptable than new dead
people? All you can do is as best as you can do, or find another
line of work…That stuff will drive you nuts if you dwell on

I gather Leonid objects to the process being imperfect, which of
course it is. I don't know of anything that IS perfect, though. We
do as best as we can with the tools we have, and as the article
(and several others) says, the process has done much - plus much of
the violence that sparked it all just isn't happening anymore. 

Actually, I do not take any position on the issue. It can be
successfully argued on both sides. What I am saying is that we cannot
substitute our judgement for the judgement of a client. If client
requests something, no matter what we may think of it personally, we
should not decide for the client. If conflict free is simply a
preference, we should provide disclosure that there is a chance that
certified conflict free diamonds may turned out to be quite
However, this thread started, as I understood at a time, not with
client expressing preference, but client wanted a guaranty. In this
case conflict free certificates not worth the paper it is written on.

Leonid Surpin

John Donivan’s response today was thoughtful and, as usual, well
stated. He brought up, however, a jeweler he knows who only uses
recycled gold and synthetic stones and makes the claim that these
are better for the environment (goo also references synthetic stones
as a solution). I have no problem with the gold claim (although all
of what John says about where all of our gold came from is certainly
accurate). But synthetic diamonds, as I understand it, need a rather
significant amount of energy use to be created. If we assume that
the constant demand for energy and oil create wars, political strife,
death, etc. then using synthetics is no solution to some of these
problems. Granted no one will die because of a civil war in Africa
that uses diamonds as a funding mechanism but how many will die to
get the energy to produce the diamonds?

My original point, however, for those who didn’t get it, was not that
we should all throw out our computers and stop heating our houses. My
point was that there are little steps everyone can make that will
help. The Kimberly Process is most assuredly not perfect. But it is
better than nothing. Third world miners that are earning only a few
dollars per day aren’t earning money that would meet American
standards, but they are earning something, so why take it away from
them? Who are we really hurting by banning gem imports from Burma?
Certainly not the entrenched regime. They could care less. In an
ideal world everyone in it would earn a living wage according to
American standards. But then all of you Americans who are so focused
on getting everything as cheaply as possible would have to give up
that position, because rest assured everything you buy would cost
more if the entire world was earning the wages we are. There would
be no more Wal Marts and Costco’s.

And just to leave you all with another thought for the day. Not long
ago the state of the economy was brought up and suggestions were
made that people should cut back on their spending. Well, if you
don’t buy as much from your suppliers (or in the places you shop
personally), then they don’t have as much money to keep people
employed, nor do they have as much discretionary income. So more
people become unemployed and more people have less to spend. Know
what? They have less to spend on YOU! And then you have even less
money. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I’m not recommending
wantonly running up huge credit card debts, but it’s my belief that
this attitude will lead to a far longer and harder economic period
for everyone. It is also certainly going to hurt the third world
countries even more as they don’t have as far to fall to hit bottom.

Keep a positive attitude. Help your customers feel good about what
they’re buying. Disclose, disclose, disclose. Do it better than
anyone else near you does. Tell everyone how good your business is
(who wants to buy something from someone who isn’t selling anything
to anyone else?). Make your customers your friends (because if
you’re good at what you do, you’re going to be seeing them for a long
time to come anyway). Enjoy what you do. Don’t believe all of this
works? My sales in August were up 80%. October was up 45%. Sales for
the year are up 20%. The only economic slow down out there is in your
mind if you want it to be.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC