The Jewelry industry is one that has had its fair share of legal issues and problems around the world. Questions over legitimacy and human rights abuses have surfaced to the point that they cannot be ignored. Even Hollywood has reflected on the issues that surround sourcing diamonds, in the 2006 political thriller Blood Diamond.
However, the jewelry industry is also a wide-reaching and diverse one. What has been a checkered past for some jewelers has been a valuable lesson for newer ones. Here, we will explore laws and guidelines for jewelry manufacturers.
The Shadow of the Past
In 2003, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was set up by the United Nations in a bid to prevent the distribution, and thus the mining of, conflict diamonds from parts of the African continent. The intent was to stop the diamonds, which had been largely mined by children and victims of human rights violations, from funding rebel factions who were hostile to the local governments. By mining diamonds through extortion, and then selling the diamonds, groups such as UNITA were turning a profit into weapons and violent machinery. Other terms for conflict diamonds that fund the insurgency is blood diamond, hot diamond, or red diamond.
Canada was one of the original members of the KPCS, which runs in very similar ways to the Magnitsky Act, which former Assistant Deputy Attorney General Malliha Wilson has called for more usage of in recent times. Malliha Wilson, a Tamil-Canadian Lawyer and Founding Partner of Nava Wilson LLP, believes that the Ontario Government should exercise its right to ban foreign officials from business with Canada if they are known to violate human rights. This is similar to the KPCS which calls for non-compliance with known dealers of conflict diamonds. Similarly, the veteran litigator, who has presented to the Supreme Court of Canada for over 20 cases, believes that the labour law of the land is absolute. Again, this has similar repercussions to the KPCS, who repeatedly exploited workers to mine the diamonds for them, before introducing them into the diamond market.
A New Diamond Industry
Some diamond companies, in a bid to shake off the stigma that the mined diamond industry has brought, have taken a very different approach to source their gemstones. One such example is Agape Diamonds. Through their sales of synthetic diamonds, they are able to take the high pressure off the consumer to find the perfect jewelry to fit into their diamond engagement rings and remain ethical whilst doing so. Furthermore, synthetic diamonds are not as costly as their natural diamond counterparts‚Äì‚Äìand to the unaided eye there is no way to tell that these gem-quality diamonds are different from those that are seen in other fine jewelry.
The process behind making synthetic diamonds is very similar to that which creates natural diamonds. Instead of extreme pressure within the Earth’s crust, a gemological laboratory will use a vacuum chamber. Whilst other gems have physical properties that are obvious, synthetic diamonds are very close to the real thing.
For The Future
As the top USA-based jewelry manufacturers demonstrate, the diamond industry is eager to shake itself loose of the complex litigation the preceded it. With the growth of synthetic diamonds and the continuing pushback against the conflict diamond mining by the Kimberley Process, it is highly likely that the natural type of diamond will become rarer on the market. Synthetic diamonds aren’t fake, instead, synthesis refers to the process behind the creation of them.
It could be that the use of the term synthetic is dropped in favor of a more general one. Until then, the jewelry market remains as robust as ever, with natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds sharing the limelight.