Diamonds – Wars, Blood, Child And Slave Labour. Why Not Lab Made Diamonds?

Diamonds have been glorified since modern history. The so called royalty, movie stars and the rich buy diamonds for show and pomp and also as investments. It is said there was a time one could walk along in South Africa and Botswana and kick diamonds as children do stones. So what made these gemstones a commodity to lust for?

First let us look at the bygone times. It was in India that diamonds were used since antiquity. References are available in Sanskrit passages and verses. Diamonds were a freely mined and traded commodity and found their way into jewelry, metal etching and engraving. 

Raw diamond

While India remained a country to source from until the 18th century, diamonds were then discovered in Brazil before South Africa, Botswana and other African nations, probably to their peril. This is when numerous diamond companies boomed and eventually were amalgamated into one major organization. Hereon, the diamond business skyrocketed and diamonds reached into the palaces of kings, emperors and the homes of the rich. 

The weight, clarity, cut, the shape, colour and the refractive index determine the value of a diamond. 

So far so good. Nice jewelry, good investment and so on. What made these into an instrument for perverse and sinister purposes when laboratory made diamonds are just as good that even an expert in gemology cannot tell the difference. Let’s take it one by one and then conclude with lab made or cultured diamonds.

Surat in India boasts of being the largest diamond cutting and polishing industry in the world. Most of the world’s diamonds are cut in this dusty city. Diamond cutting and polishing is undeniably an art and a science. But what about children who are inducted into the industry to do menial tasks? Some of them go on to become diamond polishers and cutters and make a reasonably good living while most of them remain with the demeaning and degrading work they were assigned as inductees. 

More children are put to work in the diamond mines in the African nations and work in extremely hazardous and pitiful conditions. 

We have all been hearing about Sierra Leone on the news about diamonds being used to finance the purchase of arms and ammunition by rebels to fight their governments, however, this is not limited to Sierra Leone but the illegal trade extends to other countries including Angola, Congo and the Ivory Coast where bloodshed is rampant. The rebels in these countries even use children as soldiers. Barefoot and carrying automatic weapons. Out of the total diamond jewelry trade in excess of 50 billion dollars estimatedly 4 to 15 percent constitutes what are known as blood diamonds. That indeed is a lot of money to buy weapons for bloodshed. 

Let us now transport ourselves to the civilized city of Antwerp in Belgium where most of the world’s diamonds end up in what is popularly known as the diamond district. One hardly sees a soul in this extraordinarily quiet part of the city during the day. All of the trade goes on behind closed doors. Can one imagine the loss of invaluable lives, blood, gore and who knows how many children and slaves account for the diamonds traded in these calm quarters that finally end up as bright, sparkling and glittering jewelry worn by the rich and the famous.

Cut diamonds

What about diamonds made in laboratories which are just as good as the ones created by nature? Diamonds in laboratories are created using high temperature in high pressure chambers that mimic the conditions of the crust of the Earth. The outcome of these carbon atoms which are arranged in the structure of diamond are actually diamonds that no one can tell apart when compared with natural diamonds. These are even cheaper in cost by 30 to 35 percent. But the greed and thirst for mined diamonds goes on.

Photos: Shutterstock

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