The Real Price of Jewellery
What makes diamonds so precious that they can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars? There are many myths that circulate from the diamond industry that keep the gem in high demand.
Top 3 Myths:
1) Diamonds are the rarest stones!
This is not true. Diamonds are in fact one of the most common gems. The only unique attribute is the unusual hardness of the stone (hardest gem).
2) Diamonds are unbreakable!
It is true that diamonds are the hardest gems available, however, they are not unbreakable. Diamonds do in fact chip, break, or crack if the right pressure/force is applied, just like any other gem. Diamonds have to be cut and polished before they are sold.
3) Diamonds are forever! The ultimate and only sign of love
“Diamonds are forever” actually might have been one of the smartest and most successful marketing campaigns to ever be carried out. This saying was created by N.W. Ayer, an advertising agency hired by De Beers (a leading company in the diamond industry) to sell diamond engagement rings. The premise of the advertisement was to suggest that diamonds symbolize eternal love.
These myths raise the value of diamonds, which increases their demand. Buyers often do not consider the societal implications infiltrating the industry. In less developed, diamond-rich areas such as Sierra Leone, Angola, as well as other parts of Africa, children as young as 10 years old are forced to work in the diamond fields for up to 15 hours a day. These children are not compensated for the amount of work that is done. Diamond that originate from these fields are labelled as “Conflict Diamonds” or “Blood Diamonds” and are banned in many countries over the world. Such diamonds help fund rebel militia, further encouraging war and the utilization of child soldiers. It is said that the diamond industry has cost approximately 3.7 million lives. Although many countries with a high demand for diamonds have banned any conflict diamonds from entering their market, until the demand and value for diamonds drop as a whole (clean or conflicted), conflict diamonds always find a loophole to enter the market.
When considering what kind of diamond, the size of the diamond, etc., one must also choose the metal for the setting. Gold is one of the most common metals used for diamond rings. However, similar to diamonds, the gold industry also has a dark, immoral side that consumers do not bother to consider. In many underdeveloped countries in Asia (such as the Philippines), children as young as 9 years old are forced to participate in underwater gold mining. Although this activity is illegal in the Philippines,the law is not heavily enforced, especially in less developed townships. These young children also work with toxic chemicals such as mercury. Making just enough to feed the family a small meal every day, these children work long hours in harsh environments. Just like diamonds, the value of gold is only as high as society perceives it to be. If people stop buying, the value would decrease, which would ultimately slow down illegal acts of mining and production. If nobody wants diamonds and gold, these extreme measures to obtain them would no longer be necessary.
HOW to purchase conflict-free diamonds and gold
1) Choose a reputable jeweler
2) Ask about their diamonds: discuss origin, mining process, etc
3) Although jewelers may say diamonds are conflict free, avoid purchasing from areas of conflict in general to minimize potential
4) Look into diamond alternatives:
- Cubic Zirconia (CZ)
- Other gemstones (Carefully research source as well)
5) Make sure gold is also conflict-free: ask or look for ‘fair trade gold’