Blood Diamonds and Valentine’s Day

19 Jan

Here it is, my annual V-Day-hating blog.  Every year, it gets more difficult to bring up a new aspect of this frivolous “holiday.”  My hostility makes it difficult to remain unemotional and objective when writing about this bain of my year.  My unfriendliness won’t be mitigated until this holiday ceases to exist.  One year my blog subject was how women turn into superficial bitches, another year it was a diatribe against patriarchy, a third year it was why Valentine’s Day is a waste of cash, and last year how this February seasonal tradition negatively impacts the environment.  This year, I have chosen to address the diamond industry.

A family is sitting in their hut, minding their own business, when suddenly, a group of well-armed people set fire to everything.  They load all physically-capable people in the village in a cart.  Everyone else is shot.  Those that struggle will lose a finger, or arm, or leg.  Those that try to escape will lose limbs or their lives.  The people that made it to the cart are taken away from family, friends, and their familiar surroundings to a watery, mine and made to work.  Standing bare-footed in filthy water for days a a time, the people are forced to dig for diamonds.  If they are slow, try to escape, or are caught stealing they are maimed or killed.  If they find a diamond it is taken away and sold for a lot of money.  These people are offered no choice in the matter, no compensation, and no recourse–they are now diamond minors.   It’s a pretty bleak picture.  Despite some efforts to restrict the trade of such diamonds, many of them make it to stores each year to be bought for exorbitant fees.

Valentine’s Day is a curse for diamond minors.  Amnesty International states, “More than 4 million people have been killed in diamond-fueled conflict and wars.”  The poor, underpaid and overly abused souls in Africa, digging in horrid conditions is directly influenced by the secretly imprecation marketing of “love trinkets.”   Did you realize you were supporting the damnation of third world countires when you purchased your rings, necklaces, and ear pendants, or did you just not care?  This can NOT go on!  We should refuse to support this sort of behavior any longer.  It is disgusting that the torture has gone on for this long.

In 2008, DIB.com, a Tacy publication on the internet, explains total Valentine’s Day expenditures came to US$1,555,000.  This does little to alleviate my increasing anger at our society, especially in regards to how patriarchal it is.  As one of the bigger ticket items, jewelry accounts for a substantial percentage of this obnoxious sum.  Ten percent of all marriage proposals occur on Valentine’s Day, according to, Diamonds.net.  This means, a bunch of diamond-studded engagement rings change hands, so to speak.  How unoriginal to propose on that specific day, tailored just for such an event, but also how terrible for the blood diamond minors!  At that rate, nothing is going to lighten their burden.

The Kimberly Process attempts to restrict the trade of conflict diamonds, but poor enforcement, loop-holes, and ever-present criminals make it difficult to place full trust in the protection afforded to jewels.  The KP is powerless to moderate the conflict diamonds when consumers do not demand to know where each jewel came from.  I do not understand why society is pushing to know what specific state, and farm every piece of meat they ingest is from, and how that animal lived, yet we are apathetic when it comes to the origin of expensive jewelry.  If we scrutinized the jewelry industry as much as we regulate our agriculture, it would make a huge difference in this human rights problem.

If buyers are impassive, the higher-ups are most certainly stoical.  It is not in the best interest of diamond dealers or purchasers to mollify the presence of conflict diamonds, because it drives hassle–and prices up.  Conflict-Free Diamonds just aren’t a reality yet.  Zimbabwe, a known war zone, in third world Africa, is a participant in the KP.  It’s a big problem, because that country is chaotic and war-riddled.  With all the corruption there, the diamond industry is still most definitely funding the torture of people in the diamond mines.  Just watch National Geographic’s documentary, “Blood Diamonds” or Leo DiCaprio’s dramatic movie of the same name.  Not a pretty picture–and not a neat and easy solution to the problem.

Matthew Rolston

How to allay the situation and avoid the torture of innocents by your jewelry purchase–just stop demanding and exchanging diamonds (for Valentine’s Day especially)!  You can’t fathom being the only gal un-bedecked on February 14th?  OK, if you must partake, at least get cubic zirconia.  And guess what ladies?  Cubic Zerconia (go ahead, look this up on Wiki) are actually stronger with 1.6 times the specific gravity of diamonds.  They are visually flawless, and can be made more colorful, or with no color at all.  They are more refractive than diamonds too.  The cubic zerconia index, which shows lower numbers for less impediment to light reflection,  is 2.15-2.18 compared to 2.42 for actual diamonds.  And because cubic zerconia jewels are MADE by scientists they come a lot cheaper than “real” diamonds, which take a long time to form in nature then have to be found.  They also don’t kill innocent people.

But really, do you NEED a diamond to proclaim love?  Again I implore couples, isn’t love abaout LOVE and not some contrived romantic cliche’ designed to get you to part with your cash?  Do something more original, people.  Think about those diamond minors next time you see a Zale’s commercial, which by-the-way are overplayed this time of year.  Anyone else recognize their theme song?  No good can come from celebrating Valentine’s Day.  I’m off to partake in the good part of this calender time–the televised Daytona 500 festivities.  Until next year. . .

Sources:

http://www.diamondintelligence.com/

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