Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Tanzanite and Osama

Just a word of warning to my fellow Orchidians: Friday Nov. 16 Wall
Street Journal had a long article about Tanzanite and the apparent
connection between that gem and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

I have no doubt that jewelers will be asked difficult questions about
this issue, and I suggest that you educate yourself about it. The
article does present quite convincing that al Qaeda uses
profits from the Tanzanite trade to further their militant goals.

The article is available online at which is,
unfortunately, a subscription-only site. However, a free trial is

David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

It has already been established that they were using diamonds but it
was suspected that they were using other gemstones available in the
regions as a way to have solid assets. I know that one gem suppiler I
use in Africa (he is Austrailian) has fled from his normal place of
business because it was not safe for him any more. I would bet that
right now the terrorists have sapphires and rubies as well. Just
think of what Afghanistan mines and what is available in East Africa
(an coast of admitted strongholds and buddies of the Taliban). I am
quite sure that we would be better served with Russian, Canadian,
Austrailian and Asian products for a while as that may reassure our
customers. As for Tanzanite, I don’t use it much so have no
suggestions beyond buying older stuff.

Alicia Miller

All, My feelings on the subject of conflict items are very difficult
to formulate in a communicative message. Tanzanite and diamonds are
not the only products financing human actions with which the Western
World has strong disagreements. For instance profits produced by
the garment industry in Central America end up in the pockets of
very few individuals. Profits from the jewelry and stone cutting
industries in Asia end up in the pockets of very few individuals.
Actual workers in these industries have very little chance of ever
improving their economic status. Persons that control the profit
also control everyone involved below them in the production.
Atrocities are committed daily against the workers that would not be
tolerated in the Western World. What should we do? Stop buying goods
from these nations? My answer is no. We should continue buying
goods from these nations. Trade with the Western World should be
regulated by our governments with a strong emphasis on human rights.
Persons in the Western World that import goods should follow the
rules established by their government. Right now that is not
happening. Daily goods are smuggled into the Western World by
Westerners. These smugglers of rough , and other
products are as much of the conflict problem as are the militants.
Talk to any dealer that directly buys at the source and you will get
a story about dangers in the country, getting the goods out of the
country, getting the goods into the Western World. Why is it
dangerous? Because a lot that goes on violates laws established to
stop money from reaching the hands of individuals that are militants
or have horrendous human rights records. Dealers could be arrested,
tried, and incarcerated if the laws were vigorously enforced. Profit
and individual goals drives the problem. Without money militants
cease to have effect. Dealers also do not have the ability to
expand their operations.

Gerry Galarneau

Dear Gerry Galarneau, thank you for such a sane analysis of the many
issues that affect us as users of precious materials which come from
so many varied sources and by such diverse means.

One of the issues which concerns me at times is the very core of
truthfulness or otherwise behind some of the claims made about
profiteering and politics. At this remove we only have
unsubstantiated claims that Osama is profiting from tanzanite sales.
I’m not saying that he doesn’t, it’s just that I haven’t seen any
proof of it. From what I’ve read, most of his wealth seems to be
dynastic or the product of road building in the middle east.

It would not be past all reason to entertain the concept that vested
interests in other gem material sales would be so unscrupulous as to
put about such a rumour to enhance sales of their own gem materials.
Lots of businesses see their competitors as the enemy and do not
scruple about the means to bring them down.

This is in no way to condone or support the vile terrorism that Bin
Laden and his organisation represents. But didn’t someone say that
"truth is the first casualty of war"? It’s just a thought… Kind
regards, Rex