Why the world loves blood diamonds

How they’re made

Two hundred and forty kilometres down into the depths of the Botswana capital……clear hard crystals sit amongst the carbon rich rock. At 1600 degrees and under 50000kg of pressure per sq cm, the carbon atoms are squeezed into a much tighter squeeze than that which produces coal or graphite. It can take up to 3 billion years to produce diamonds.

No drill can reach these depths, but 30 million years ago, gas trapped in the mantle expanded. Like a shaken champagne bottle, diamonds from the mantle were blasted into the Earth’s crust. In a series of ancient eruptions diamonds have made their way closer to the earth’s surface and ready to sit on the hand of some lucky wife to be. Millions of diamonds remain, buried beyond our reach.


Diamond psychology

Through decades of insidious advertising campaigns we have become conditioned to associate diamonds with prosperity and love, but not everyone falls for this marketing trickery. Edward Jay Epstein (an investigative journalist) published his ‘Atlantic Story’ in 1982 where he explained how the creation of the idea that diamonds are rare and valuable are essential to the perceptive value its given. From when world markets were flooded with diamonds in the early 19th Century, the British businessmen operating diamond mines in South Africa thought they had to maintain the fiction that diamonds were scarce and valuable to protect the investment. Subsequently they launched the DeBeers cartel in 1888 so they could manipulate the supply and demand for diamonds throughout the world.

Advertising giant N.W. Ayer was then brought in by De Beers to help persuade young men that diamonds (and only diamonds) were synonymous with romance and the measure of a mans love. Young women had to be convinced of the same thing, which wan’t much of a struggle considering the female proclivity to all things blingy. A well thought out diamond necessity campaign was drip fed through magazines, movies and the news to the public. The use of celebrities, actors and politicians all helped spread the word of the importance of purchasing a diamond. There is also a theory that the advertising scheme was just a perpetuation of the already increasingly popular diamond fad brought about due to sexual economics. Diamonds were used in engagement rings as ‘collateral’ so men could sleep with women before they were married.

How to buy diamonds without feeling guilty

It’s simple, buy ethically sourced diamonds. I would say conflict free, but these diamonds, may still be tainted by violence, human rights abuses, poverty and environmental degradation. I say this as I type on my Hewlett Packard laptop which supplies IT systems, equipment and services to the Israeli military that play a key role in the occupation and violation of Palestinian rights. I am wearing my ¬£2.99 Primark t-shirt, and 50p Primark socks….Primark owned by Associated British foods. The company has paid $14million dollars in aid and compensation to the victims of the Rana Plaza factory¬† collapse which killed 581 workers. Their deaths, are part of reason why clothes can be made so cheap. I can’t judge the millions of people who buy diamonds each year because many of the consumer products sourced or made in third world countries come with a bloody footprint. The consumers quest for all things shiny has become remorseless and unstoppable.

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