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Revisiting The Kimberley Process: Status Quo

Kimberley Process

If you’re remotely familiar with the diamond industry, you’d know about the issues and concerns surrounding the industry. The last decade has seen many discussions on conflict free diamonds, human and health issues around diamond mining, and financing of war via the diamond industry.


One of the biggest reasons for the popularity and promotion of lab grown diamonds, is, in fact, the conflict-laden mined diamond industry. And that is what led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.


In this blog, we look at what is the Kimberley Process, why it failed, and what are the steps being taken to reform it for the sake of ensuring ethical diamonds the world over.

What is the Kimberley Process?

The Kimberley Process is a commitment to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain. It was established in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream diamond market. Set up by a United Nations resolution, 82 governments brought the Kimberley Process in law after reports showed links between the mined diamond trade and the financing of conflict. 


Following this, many diamond merchants ventured into the lab grown diamond industry to promote conflict free diamonds. Lab created diamonds are free from the issues and concerns that surround diamond mining. 

The Kimberley Process: Status Quo

Although the Kimberley Process members had hoped for improvements, the current state reveals shortfalls. For example, in the revision of the definition of conflict diamonds and endorsing the principles of responsible diamond sourcing. The Kimberley Process certificate remains insufficient and there is a need to go beyond conflict free if the aim is to have only ethical diamonds the world over. 


The Kimberley Process (KP) failed due to many reasons.


The first flaw in the KP is some terms of certification. For example, the certification focuses only on the mining and distribution of conflict diamonds. It leaves out other related issues such as worker exploitation, health, safety, child labor, and fair pay. The certification also misses out focusing on large populations being uprooted from their ancestral lands for the purpose of mining. 


The second drawback is that the KP certificate does not apply to individual diamonds but to a batch of rough diamonds. These diamonds are cut and distributed around the world. There is no method or system to track these diamonds. 


Unlike lab diamonds that are created in safe environments inside laboratories using scientific methods, mined diamonds are fraught with issues around human rights, health, environment, and ethics. Lab diamonds are conflict free diamonds that are gaining popularity. However, the loopholes in the Kimberley Process are hindering the growth of ethical diamonds such as lab grown diamonds. 


For example, if a customer went to a jewelry store to buy a mined diamond, they would not know the origin of the diamond; which mine it came from, the working conditions and whether or not it is a conflict free diamond. 


The Kimberley Process: Next Steps

In June 2022, in the closing note of the Kimberley Process Intersessional in Botswana, it was announced that there is a “positive shift in the readiness of members to reforming the KP.”


“This year, throughout our engagements with many government participants here in Kasane, there seems to be strong support for further reforms, including that of the ‘conflict diamond definition’”, the press release mentioned. 

Should you buy mined diamonds or lab created diamonds?

While just a few years ago, the layman, or the lay diamond consumer was unaware of these issues surrounding mined diamonds, today, the scenario is different. 


Diamond consumers are aware of the many issues caused by the diamond mining industry the world over. Consumers are also aware of the loopholes in the efforts made to curb illegal diamond mining. 


And that is one of the biggest reasons more and more consumers are opting for lab diamonds, which are conflict free diamonds. 


Conscious consumers and diamond retailers, jewelers, designers, now promote only lab diamonds. Add to that, a number of celebrities that have been donning lab created diamond jewelry at red carpet events. Besides, lab diamonds are increasingly being chosen for engagement and wedding rings. 


All these factors only point to one trend — ethical diamonds are in, mined diamonds are out!

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