“In Sierra Leone, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Liberia and the Ivory Coast the sale of conflict diamonds continues to thrive for many reasons. Rebels make large profits because they use free labor–They threaten villagers at gunpoint, forcing them to dig for diamonds. If villagers refuse to follow soldiers’ orders, their limbs are amputated as punishment. Rebels sell the diamonds on the black market for less than other diamonds. Therefore, wholesalers make a bigger profit. The rebels use the money gained from the diamonds to fund wars.”— CNN
The UN has established the Kimberley Process to identify conflict-free diamonds that were obtained legitimately, however this does not prevent sale of unethical diamonds.
And mining the earth for gold is equally perilous, for the environment and surrounding communities. The Smithsonian has reported:
- The majority of the world’s gold is extracted from open pit mines, where huge volumes of earth are scoured away and processed for trace elements.
- To produce enough raw gold to make a single ring, 20 tons of rock and soil are dislodged and discarded.
- Much of this waste contains mercury and cyanide used to extract the gold from the rock, and the contaminated soil runs off clogging rivers.
- Air quality is also compromised by gold mining, which releases hundreds of tons of airborne elemental mercury every year, as well as sulfur dioxide.
There is a No Dirty Gold campaign to raise awareness, and fortunately there are companies making jewelry from recycled gold and diamonds. [Read more…] about The Ugly Side of Gold and Diamonds—and Finding Truly Beautiful Ones