Each year around US$12 billion of rough diamonds are mined from around the globe.
These come from many countries including those in Africa as well as Russia, Australia and Canada.
The diamonds are cut, polished and sold in a retail market worth nearly US$70 billion. The flow of transactions taking the diamonds from mine to market is known as 'the diamond industry pipeline’.
Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of rough diamonds and in 2006-07, our exports of rough diamonds were $565 million.
During the 1990s, it became apparent that the industry pipeline was contaminated by diamonds—known as ‘conflict diamonds’—that had been sold to finance African rebel movements. These groups exploited the nature of the diamond trade to finance their wars against legitimate governments and great hardship and misfortune was brought upon some of Africa’s diamond-rich, but undeveloped, countries.
In response, the United Nations backed Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds.
As part of the Kimberly Process, the diamond industry agreed to a system of warranties requiring that those in the diamond industry only buy diamonds from companies that provide guarantees that their diamonds do not come from conflict sources.
It is now widely accepted that less than 1% of all diamonds come from conflict sources and this has been largely through the effective implementation of these controls.
As a consumer, you should expect jewellers to provide you with documentary evidence to prove that any diamond you buy is guaranteed to be conflict-free. Please make sure that you make this enquiry whenever you purchase diamonds. We feel very strongly about our personal responsibility to assist and support the processes that ensure our diamonds come from ethical sources and that we do not inadvertently support any trade in conflict diamonds.