Saturday, November 22, 2008

the dark side of diamonds

Some people think that vegetarians don’t like Baby Back Ribs smothered in barbeque sauce and so tender you could shake the meat off the bone. Some people think that environmentalists wouldn’t enjoy driving a Hummer with a full tank through an moss-covered streambed. Some people think that Feminists don’t enjoy being gently fussed over by men and called “Princess.” Some people watch Nanny 911. “Some people” are stupid.

I love diamonds. I found the perfect ring the other day. Just the kind of ring I never knew existed, but as soon as I saw it I loved it and can’t live without it. It had a wide band with dozens of tiny sparkling diamonds creating a simple design across it. Very renaissance. I could see myself at 89 years old still gazing down and tilting my hand back and forth to let the gems catch and throw the light into dazzling colors. I love diamonds. I love how they sparkle, I love the variety of styles and rings, I love how clear and white and perfect a diamond is. I love how you can tell just by looking at a person’s left hand if they are married or not. I love that in a confusing world of changing styles and life-styles that wedding rings have stayed constant.I showed off the ring that my fiancée and I had picked out together, everyone had a comment for it. His friends called him cheap, my parents were confused, “it’s not even a real engagement ring,” and everyone asked, “oh, you didn’t want a diamond?”

I hate diamonds. Everything about them disgusts me. I hate shallow girls comparing carat size with each other, I hate admiring people’s rings, and I hate walking past ostentatious jewelry stores. I hate the fact that people fight and kill each other over control of diamond mines so that a guy can spend four months working in order to purchase something for a girl in order for her to show off. I hate the materialism and vanity that goes with diamonds. I hate fake salespeople and their slick ways of talking you into buying the latest tennis bracelet. I hate how infants are starving to death or people are dying of easily curable diseases while people spend thousands on a tiny ridiculous rock. I hate how I can’t bring myself to wholly hate diamonds. Sparkly, shimmery, beautiful diamonds.

I have to continually remind myself of why I abhor diamonds. As soon as I do I can walk away from the polished glass diamond counter, breathing a sigh of relief that I’m not the type of girl who likes things like that.




The biggest reason that I don’t get into the diamond market is that buying diamonds hurts people. Somewhere between 4 and 15 percent of diamonds traded are part of something called “conflict diamonds.” This means that people with guns and weapons take advantage of people without guns and weapons and make them mine diamonds in horrible conditions. These guns also keep those without guns from causing a fuss about anything illegal or atrocious that the mine operators do. In the last ten years 3 million people have been killed. Countless more have lost their hands or feet so that they could serve as examples to others. These people with guns also use the profits from diamonds to buy more guns to support other unwholsome activities.


But let’s say that a person really wants diamonds. Let’s say they are willing to go the extra mile and pay the extra dollar/pound/euro/yen/whatever to purchase a certified, non-conflict diamond. They can’t. There’s no way to be sure you’re not buying a conflict diamond. (Well…there is, there is a type of laser scanning technology, but it is not used, due to little demand for it.) There are also organizations and sanctions trying to keep the diamonds straight, but nothing works really well. In the process of mining, cutting, polishing, and setting, a diamond passes through many hands. And it takes just one person with their eye out for number one to scramble up the pot and ruin it for the rest of them.

Let's say that somehow, you have gotten a hold of a non-conflict diamond. You went to the mine yourself and saw well-paid, of-age, happy workers mining diamonds. They worked in safe conditions and could go home to their family with all four limbs intact. Can you dish out your hard-earned dough, feeling good about what you’ve done? Maybe you can, but the toddler who lost both hands to serve as a lesson to his parents working in the mines can’t.

Diamonds are not as valuable as most people believe. The price is kept unnaturally high by very powerful diamond lobbies. By paying that lofty price for your non-conflict diamond, you are keeping conflict diamond prices high, and making it very much worth their while in Congo to keep those mines open and keep on mutilating and killing for profit.




Stepping off that soapbox for a while I’ll jump onto another one. Another reason I don’t like diamonds is all the materialism, greed, and vanity that goes with them. It’s hard to even know where to start. From all these ads on television and billboards, I am almost starting to believe that diamonds are no longer just a symbol of love, they actually mean love. If I were to take them seriously I would believe that my significant other does not love me unless he spends the equivalent of four months of work on an engagement ring, and then periodically throughout our life together, he purchases other precious stones. I have to have a bigger ring than other girls so that they will admire me and be my friend. I need to have bling or I am not a worthwhile person. Any problems my relationship or my life has, a new piece of jewelry will fix it.


A husband should feel as though he is a lesser man because he didn’t buy his significant other a large enough stone. That his love doesn’t mean anything unless it comes paired with a full carat stone affixed atop a platinum band. His wife doesn’t need quality time or support or even some help matching the socks, just a new pair of diamond earrings come Valentines day.

I hope that isn’t how real people think. Oh man, I really hope that is not how people think, but I’m pretty sure some people do. Isn’t love how you treat each other, not the size of a ring? Isn’t love is letting your girlfriend put her cold hands on your stomach when she comes in from walking the dog? Isn’t love ordering out pizza when you really want sushi and kissing someone (o

n the lips) when they smell bad from being sick?

And why else do people buy bling, if not to express their love for another person? To impress people? To feel better about themselves? I hope both of those reasons are empty enough that I can leave it at that.

Diamonds are a huge waste of time and resources. We’ve already been over how their price is inflated, but besides that. Newly married people are generally not very well off. They are frequently young people fresh out of college or working their way up the ladder of success. They still have a lot to learn about managing finances, bringing together two incomes, and perhaps they are hoping to embark on the most expensive pastime around, having children. What better way to start that relationship than getting into debt over a ring with a clear stone? W

ouldn’t the money be better spent towards a down payment on a house, paying off some student loans, or an investment in their future rather than an accessory? I’ve always wondered how people felt wearing such an expensive article of clothing on their left hand day in and day out. Doesn’t it make them nervous?


I don’t condemn anyone who has a diamond ring; I don’t look down on anyone that buys diamonds. But just in case some people didn’t know the inside scoop on conflict diamonds, or in case anyone was hovering between spending hundreds or even thousands on a ring or not, I thought I would throw this out there for your perusal.

So go out there you vegetarians, and eat your tofu

while imagining juicy crisp bacon. Drive to work in your Geo Metros, you environmentalists. Feminists, split the dinner bill right down the middle, don’t even let him pick up

the appetizer. I will continue to walk past jewelry stores like a recovering alcoholic walks past taverns with my head held high without even sneaking a peak at the light catchers inside.

-Sara


http://saraallsop.blogspot.com/2005/11/diamonds.html




5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The critical issue for the purchase of an ethical diamond is being able to trace that diamond back to a specific beneficiation project, such as those in Botswana or Namibia. Canadian diamonds are also viable choices.

I think what you say about conflict diamonds is more nuanced than you suggest. Much of what is labeled as "conflict" is actually smuggled by artisanal miners who are trying to get a fair price for their rough stones. The percentage of diamonds actually funding wars is still very small, but the percentage of smuggled diamonds is high.

I suggest that those interested in diamonds find companies that are attempting to have exemplary standards. There are several out there.

More info can be found my blog, lfairjewelry.org

joshua said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sharon

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Erika Piquant said...

Wow, Great Post!

Web Designing Karachi said...

Wonderful Writing style. I like your thoughts.

Jemma said...

I have come across your blog after researching into Blood Diamonds, or Conflict Diamonds as part of my final project for college. I was wondering, where did you get your images from and are they copyright-free, as I would like to use them within my own work.
Your blog was a nice read though, so thanks!

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