A Unique Gift from Nature
Loose diamonds are both the most magical and versatile of Nature’s creations, and have fascinated mankind for over four thousand years. They reflect powerful values of love and commitment, and have contributed significantly to scientific and economic progress—from their use in industrial manufacturing and construction, to the development of intricate surgical instruments. Today, an estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry, many in developing economies such as Botswana and India. An estimated 5 million people globally have access to appropriate healthcare thanks to revenues from diamonds. Debswana, a mining company in Botswana, recently became the first mining company in the world to extend free anti-retroviral treatment to HIV positive employees, their life partners, their children, and former employees for life.
Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to age 13. In Namibia, the diamond mining industry is the largest employer after the government. In spite of the contribution diamonds continue to make to the wellbeing of millions, their high value makes them vulnerable to theft and abuse. This was highlighted in the 1990s when rebel organizations in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone expropriated diamonds and used the revenues to perpetrate civil war and carry out atrocities against innocent civilians. Having been made aware of the urgency to act by two non-governmental organizations, (Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada), the diamond industry acted swiftly to co-operate with NGOs, governments and the United Nations. It established the World Diamond Council, representing the entire industry from mining to retail. The World Diamond Council contributed significantly to the development of the UN mandated Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which ensures that today more than 99 percent of diamonds are from conflict-free sources. Still, one diamond traded for conflict is one too many and that is why we continue to work, together with NGOs, governments and the UN, to eradicate this illegal trade entirely. There are now 74 governments that are members of the Kimberley Process.
The World Diamond Council encourages readers to challenge their jeweler to provide assurance that the diamonds in their jewelry have been purchased from reliable sources.
…10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry…
Dreams of Africa
One American jeweler determined to address Africa’s continued suffering has introduced a conflict-free diamond pendant. Debi Wexler, CEO of one of the largest online diamond retailers, Whiteflash.com, is dedicating all proceeds from her $4,400 conflict-free Diamonds of Africa diamond pendant to supporting children who have suffered under blood diamond conflicts and to creating awareness to combat illicit diamond trade. “Africa is earth’s most vivid mosaic of cultural and natural beauty. But for all her richness and life, this beautiful portrait is stained where unrest brings hunger and suffering to her children,” says Wexler, who holds these issues close to her heart.
“The Dreams of Africa pendant’s sparkling conflict-free diamonds symbolize innocence and its bold sapphires symbolize truth. The beautiful center stone represents Mother Africa and is Whiteflash’s branded diamond ‘A Cut Above’ ™. This is the most visually balanced diamond in the world ™. World Centers of Compassion for Children International, WCCCI, works to establish an initial learning center, headquartered in Italy, which will provide scholarships for children from Sierra Leone and other locations across Africa, and to instill values of peace and understanding during these children’s early education. Italy’s government donated the land where the center is located.
Against the backdrop of a faltering economy, the diamond industry’s corporate social responsibility credentials are timelier than ever.
Diamond companies are talking about more than just carats and colors these days. As consumers demand more added value than ever, the industry is drawing attention to its commitment to improving the lives of the people who create diamonds and its broader philanthropic initiatives. In Botswana, approximately 25 percent of the labor force is linked to diamonds, according to the World Diamond Council. Many African countries do not have sufficient tax revenues to pay for public education. Botswana, with the help of diamond revenues, is one of the exceptions. In 2006, the Botswanan President said this: “Revenue from diamonds has enabled the government to fund virtually 100 percent of basic education, provide virtually free health care, build the infrastructure that
has supported our economic activity, and to fund 80 percent of the anti-retroviral drugs that have given hope to our fellow citizens living with HIV/AIDS.”
Wedding Ring History: Questions Answered
It all started in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria handed Mary of Burgundy a diamond set gold ring and asked her to marry him. Soon royalty and all who could afford to adopted the tradition of offering a diamond as a symbol of everlasting love and commitment. The tradition of putting the ring on the left-hand ring finger is thought to have been popularized by the Egyptians who believed this finger contains the blood vessels directly connected to the heart. For over five centuries, men have given women diamonds in an effort to take their relationship to a whole new level. Despite the economy, jewelers report the engagement and bridal markets are still proving to be laden with gold.
Jewelers on the Web
Luxury jewelry brands have moved online with caution. Now an increasing number are leveraging the internet for ecommerce. Many fine jewelers have long believed that jewelry needed to be touched and felt before it was bought. Whiteflash.com now one of America’s largest online diamond retailers, has simplified the buying process of an engagement ring online and has helped change that outlook somewhat.
Diamonds for the Holidays
While caution sums up the mood of the moment, imaginative diamond jewelry design at the highest levels this holiday shopping season shows no signs of slowing down. High jewelers are introducing elaborate new pieces this winter designed to inspire and impress. Despite much talk of doom of gloom this year, the show is still very much on in the world of high jewelry. Whiteflash.com has reported and increased demand for its classic and clean lined designs, especially for engagement rings.