The Foundry Journal

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The Foundry Journal

You Don’t Have to Settle for ‘Mostly’ Conflict Free Diamonds

July 26, 2015

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Diamond Industry

You Don’t Have to Settle for ‘Mostly’ Conflict Free Diamonds

July 26, 2015 BY Mari Pack IN Diamond Industry

Let’s assume that you are a human being with a passing interest in moral and social responsibilities. Let’s assume that since you followed this link to a diamond website, you’re also interested in purchasing conflict free diamonds. You probably know something about the dubious ethics behind traditional diamond mining and trading practices – which is a nice way of saying that monopolies like De Beers funneled conflict diamonds (i.e. “blood diamonds”) into the market for the better part of the 20th century.

The Current System

You probably know less about something called the “Kimberley Process.” In 2000, the World Diamond Congress met in Kimberley, South Africa to create a system by which the diamond industry could more effectively block the sale of conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process helped to stabilize legitimate governments in Africa by redirecting diamond sales to the legal market, thereby allowing those governments to profit financially. This new system also curtailed revenue towards the insurgent groups that challenged those governments and triggered civil wars. Hence, the Kimberley Process, at its most effective, prevents and minimalizes conflict.

This sounds pretty good, right? Like, even if diamond trading used to be problematic, a bunch of good guys got together and cleaned it up. Yes and no. The Kimberly Process, by its own accord, isn’t perfect. Since the Kimberley Process doesn’t certify individual jewelers, customers must rely on the “reputability” of businesses to purchase Kimberley Process certified diamonds. Moreover, although governments may attempt to stamp out corruption, it’s not uncommon for government officials in countries like Ghana and Sierra Leone to declare conflict diamonds “Kimberley Process Certified” in exchange for bribes. 

a diamond's true price

Still, you – that human being with a passing interest in moral and social responsibilities – need a diamond. Maybe you’re getting engaged, or maybe you’re a James Bond villain with a giant laser. We’re not here to judge. What can you do?

The Ethical Diamond Alternative

Well, you can get your diamonds from a foundry, which is like a greenhouse for diamonds. How real are these diamonds? You ask, predictably. SO REAL. We respond, too enthusiastically. A foundry diamond isn’t a lab simulant like cubic zirconium. Lab created diamonds are identical to the diamonds found in nature – same crystalline structure and everything.

To spare you the technical science talk, we grow our diamonds in reactors by using a natural diamond ‘seed’ as a base. We layer the base with carbon atoms that make a ‘plant’ from the original diamond seed. In order to ensure that those atoms form a diamond, we create ‘pancake’ shaped plasma in our reactor. The plasma holds the carbon, but when the carbon atoms encounter the slice of diamond, they detach from the plasma. With the layer of natural diamond as their guide, the atoms stack on top of each other until they form a jewelry-grade diamond. The whole process happens out in California, where we use solar energy to ensure that our diamonds are environmentally friendly as well as conflict free.

So yes, you can have totally conflict free diamonds. And yes, we made you read a whole article before telling you how, but we did it for educational purposes. It’s nearly impossible to ensure an ethical mined diamond, but lab created diamonds are changing the game. 

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