How to Buy an Ethically-Sourced Diamond
The first step is finding a guide to navigate you through the ethical waters. This can be as easy as choosing a jewelry professional who shares your concerns, has researched the complexities, and whose inventory and services reflect that combined concern and research. A jeweler’s willingness to educate you through the diamond buying process is a good sign that they care about these issues.
Introduction to the Ethical Sourcing of Natural Diamonds
In January 2003, forty nations signed “The Kimberley Process’ – a global effort to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process has been continually refined and improved since then. So, your first line of defense in your quest for a conflict-free diamond is a diamond grading report asserting such.
The Kimberley Process, like any commercial regulation, can have loopholes and minor failures. If you want absolute assurances that the diamond you are purchasing was not part of a scheme that funded terrorism or “blood diamonds,” unfortunately no recently-mined diamond qualifies. Every diamond-producing and diamond-cutting country has measurable issues with diamond smuggling, money-laundering, or Kimberley Process fraud. [FATF Report, “Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing through Trade in Diamonds,” October 2013.]
Recent Developments in Natural Diamond Ethics
This landscape of mined diamond ethics is ever-shifting. For instance, the embargo on Russian diamonds in response to the invasion of Ukraine forced many NGOs to apply an additional layer of vigilance above and beyond existing Kimberley Process limitations.
According to that same report, the nations most likely to be a source of conflict-free diamonds are South Africa and Canada. Again, these sources are “most likely” conflict-free.
100% Assurance of a Diamond Being Conflict Free?
So how can you buy a diamond today and be 100% assured of its conflict-free status? Luckily, there are multiple options: antique, upcycled, and some estate diamonds all qualify as conflict-free. As a bonus… no additional mining need occur to acquire them!
Antique Diamonds are the Easiest Option for Conflict Free Diamonds
The easiest option to acquire are antique diamonds. They are old enough that they pre-date the recent conflicts... and their style of cut has an Old World charm that you just can’t find in modern cuts! Since these diamonds are antique and have been worn with love over the years, a skilled, artisan diamond-cutter can polish out all the nicks, chips, and scratches one might have.
Alara is Partnered with Maarten de Witte | AKA The Diamond Wizard
For example, we at Alara Jewelry are partnered with American Diamond Cutter, Maarten de Witte. Maarten has over forty years experience in the gem trade and is a GIA Graduate Gemologist and Master Diamond Cutter who holds two patents for diamond cuts of his own creation. You can trust your antique diamonds will be in good hands with Maarten. Below, you can see the magic Maarten performs!
Where Can You Buy an Antique Diamond?
No family antiques? Jewelers with the right connections can help you source and buy an antique diamond. We at Alara have several such connections, and we invite you to stop by to learn about your options.
Are Estate Diamonds Conflict Free, Too?
Regarding estate diamonds: while they are not old enough to qualify as antique, some are old enough to predate conflicts. However, depending upon when they were cut, many diamond-cuts during this “safe” time period are found to be unattractive to today’s jewelers and consumers alike. As a consequence, certain estate diamonds are devalued on the market. This makes them a great option for the price, but how do you get around the unattractive cut? Enter diamond upcycling!
What is Diamond Upcycling?
With diamond upcycling, you have the lower-priced diamond re-cut into a modern cut, or maybe even a different shape. As we mentioned earlier, you will want a jeweler with a strong relationship with an artisanal diamond cutter who can expertly re-work and beautify your diamond.
We Upcycle Diamonds
We buy estate diamonds that pre-date the conflict period and get them recut, so our customers have an additional source of 100% conflict-free diamonds. After being recut, they can be graded through a third-party gem laboratory, just like any other diamond.
How to Care for an Ethically Sourced Diamond
Just like any other diamond, ethically-sourced diamonds need specialized care to ensure their sparkle and beauty! After you make your purchase, develop a routine for cleaning and maintaining your diamond. The best jewelers will automatically set you up for success by guiding you through the best methods for properly caring for your ethical diamond, how often these processes should be done, and any other techniques that can help extend the life of your gem.
Ethical Diamond Sourcing is Important to Us
All of this is just scratching the surface, but jewelry professionals that take ethical sourcing seriously are ready to help you learn as much as you want to know. I welcome any and all follow-up questions, as do most of the independent jewelers in our area.