consumers beginning to ask where their diamonds come form,
prodding the industry to ensure that they are not indirectly
financing civil wars, a conference of the World Diamond Council
in Ramat Gan (Israel), has started working on ways to stop
trade in "conflict diamonds," precious stones sold by factions
in civil wars.
It isn't easy, they admit. Once they're out of the ground,
diamonds look pretty much alike. Discussing the issues at
Israel's diamond exchange, one of the world's top cutting
and trading centres, members of the council decided on a new
certification system. Up to now, certificates have stated
the country where the gems were sold. The council is aiming
for certificates that list the country of origin as well.
Used together with lists of forbidden mines and regions, the
system would cut into the conflict diamond trade.
addition to an international chain of warranties, the council
called on individual governments to pass legislation banning
the import and export of undocumented diamonds. The council
threatened to expel banks, insurance companies or shippers
from industry guilds if they are caught dealing in conflict
The diamond trade, worth about $ 6 billion a year, has been
tarnished by disclosure that rebel groups in Sierra Leone
and Angola have bought weapons through diamond sales and committed
atrocities in their struggles against elected governments.
Industry officials say that conflict diamonds account for
only 4 per cent of their trade but fear that protests could
damage their reputations.