Every day, more than a million diamond diggers in Africa endure dangerous and unfair working conditions. Many diggers earn less than $1 a day, which is not enough to feed their families or live in dignity. The diamond mining regions of West Africa remain among the poorest in their respective countries, despite their extraordinary natural resources.
Regrettably, attempts to regulate the diamond industry, such as the Kimberley Process, have been ineffective at raising living standards. But one promising approach is still in its very early stages: a fair trade diamond standard. Brilliant Earth believes that establishing a fair trade diamond certification system is essential to promoting economic justice in diamond mining communities.
Fair trade certification is an innovative approach to reducing poverty in developing countries. Fair trade products are produced by local farmers and workers following strict labor and environmental guidelines. These products receive fair trade certification, and are then sold directly to buyers around the world for a fair price. By connecting responsible local producers with international buyers, Consumers can help
diggers earn a fair
price by demanding
a fair trade diamond
certification system.the fair trade model uses market principles to expand local economic opportunity.
Presently there is no certification system for fair trade diamonds. However, fair trade standards have been successfully created for hundreds of other products including coffee, chocolate, and tea. These certification systems have lifted thousands of producers out of abject poverty, increased wages three to five fold, and eliminated environmentally harmful practices.
We believe that a fair trade diamond certification system is fundamental to reducing labor abuses and environmental harm in the diamond industry. A fair trade diamond standard could help organize diggers into cooperatives, cut out unethical middlemen, and allow diamond diggers to earn their fair share of the profits. Fair trade diamonds could also transform diamond mining communities Fair Trade Diamonds by generating funds to invest in basic necessities such as clean water, medical care, and education.
With the help of Fairtrade International, the coordinating organization for the fair trade movement, a fair trade diamond standard is in the early stages of development. We are among the stakeholders actively involved in discussions. As we work to make fair trade diamonds a reality, we are encouraged by the fact that fair trade labels are being adopted in other areas of the jewelry industry. In 2010, a promising new certification system was launched for fair trade gold. With time, we are optimistic that a fair trade diamond label will also be launched.
As we help to establish a fair trade diamond standard, we are taking other measures to improve economic conditions for diamond diggers in developing countries. For instance, we have purchased limited quantities of diamonds from PRIDE Diamonds, a socially responsible diamond mining organization in Sierra Leone. PRIDE Diamonds demonstrates its commitment to fair trade principles by paying its workers several times the average wage of a worker in Sierra Leone, reinvesting money into surrounding communities, and rehabilitating mined land to make it available for productive farming.
Brilliant Earth’s non-profit fund also supports efforts to promote economic fairness for diamond diggers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Our donation has funded two community centers in eastern Congo where diamond diggers can learn about their rights and join together to increase their bargaining power. By supporting these community centers, we are empowering diamond diggers in the DRC to build a better future for themselves.
We offer our customers another way to promote change in the diamond industry: our broad selection of beyond conflict free diamonds go beyond the current industry standard and originate from mines that adhere to strict labor, trade, and environmental standards. Countries of origin include Canada, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Russia.
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