San Francisco, CA (December 2011) - This holiday season, thousands of diamond jewelry shoppers will hear a refrain that has become standard fare in jewelry stores – that more than 99% of diamonds are conflict free. But few shoppers will realize that this is a diamond industry-promoted statistic that is meant to be misleading.
Repeatedly told that conflict diamonds are nothing to worry about, many jewelry consumers never learn that large portions of the diamond supply have histories linked to torture, rape, and killings. Diamond-fueled violence is most severe in countries such as Zimbabwe and Angola, which together could soon produce 20% of all diamonds.
Brilliant Earth, a leading provider of ethical fine jewelry, argues in a new blog series that the diamond industry has a responsibility to stop misleading consumers. In its blog, Brilliant Earth calls on the diamond industry, as represented by the World Diamond Council (WDC), to abandon the "1% myth" – the notion, heavily promoted by the diamond industry, that conflict diamonds make up "considerably less than 1%" of the diamond supply.
"For years, the diamond industry has tried to sweep under the rug problems like killings, torture, sexual violence, child labor, corruption, and extreme poverty," said Beth Gerstein, co-founder of Brilliant Earth. "It has done this by relying on an overly-technical definition of 'conflict diamond' and promoting a deceptive statistic. Only by excluding almost every diamond tied to violence can the diamond supply be said to be 99% conflict free."
The clearest example of the diamond industry's refusal to properly acknowledge violence tied to diamond mining is Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is looting the country's diamond wealth to fund his political party and maintain his corrupt dictatorship. Since 2008, Mugabe's military has been deployed in valuable diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. The military has massacred civilians, enslaved adults and children in the mines, and run camps where disobedient miners are tortured and raped.
Despite these glaring human rights abuses, the diamond industry stubbornly refuses to count Zimbabwean diamonds in its statistics. In a written response to Brilliant Earth, the WDC stands by its claim that less than one percent of diamonds are conflict diamonds. Brilliant Earth disagrees.
"It is time for the diamond industry to stop feeding retailers and consumers a statistic that glosses over brutality that most consumers would find shocking," said Gerstein. "The one percent myth should be exposed for what it is – a promotional gimmick designed to keep consumers from asking hard questions."
This has been a difficult week for the diamond industry. On Monday, the rights group Global Witness announced its withdrawal from the Kimberley Process, the international diamond certification scheme, dealing a blow to the diamond industry's attempts to assure consumers that international systems for eliminating conflict diamonds are functioning smoothly. Brilliant Earth's challenge to the WDC effectively increases pressure on the diamond industry to deal frankly with consumers.
Links to Blog Series:
The One Percent Myth: Debunking a Diamond Industry Statistic (Introducing Series)
The One Percent Myth: Debunking a Diamond Industry Statistic (Part II) (On Violence in Diamond Mining)
The One Percent Myth: Debunking a Diamond Industry Statistic (Part III) (On Poverty, Labor Abuses in Diamond Mining)
The One Percent Myth: Debunking a Diamond Industry Statistic (Part IV) (Presenting Alternative Statistical Approaches)
The One Percent Myth: The Diamond Industry Responds to Brilliant Earth (WDC’s Response to Brilliant Earth and Brilliant Earth’s Rebuttal)
Brilliant Earth is a leading U.S. jeweler dedicated to advocating for a more ethical diamond industry. For the Brilliant Earth Blog home page, visit http://blog.brilliantearth.com/. For more information on Brilliant Earth, visit www.brilliantearth.com.
San Francisco, CA (June 2010) - Thousands of consumers have voiced their frustration with the Kimberley Process, saying they have little faith that the international certification scheme can effectively keep ‘blood diamonds’ off global markets.
Blogs and social network sites have fueled signatures for an online petition (tiny.cc/kpreform) in recent weeks, as news spread that the Kimberley Process is likely to certify diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange region, despite evidence of mass murders, forced labor, political oppression, and human rights abuses associated with their mining.
“Consumers are outraged that the Kimberley Process is not protecting the basic human rights or dignity of diamond miners. They find the ‘conflict-free’ certification to be misleading, and are appalled that nothing is being done to change the situation in Zimbabwe,” said Beth Gerstein, the founder of Brilliant Earth, a national jeweler that sponsored the petition in response to consumer requests for a platform to voice their concerns.
The growing lack of faith expressed by consumers and industry insiders adds to the frustrations detailed by human rights advocates and even the Kimberley Process’s original architects.
“We are seeing a steadily growing tide of discontent with the Kimberley Process. Zimbabwe will be the final nail in the coffin for the Kimberley Process if they don’t take action next week. We’ll be back where we were 7 years ago, when the world associated diamonds with war and oppression,” said Gerstein.
The Kimberley Process will be meeting in Tel Aviv June 21 - 23, 2010. The major focus of the meeting will be Zimbabwe, and the recommendation from monitor Abbey Chikane to approve certification of the contested diamonds. Zimbabwe was given a 1-year deadline to guarantee compliance with the Kimberley Process in September 2009.
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Brilliant Earth is a leading American jeweler motivated by consumer demand for a more ethical diamond industry.
Brilliant earth and the conflict free diamond council join medshare to send essential medical supplies to sierra leone
Conflict Free Diamond Partners Bring Relief to War Victims Hurt by Diamond Trade
San Francisco, CA (October 2007) - Brilliant Earth, the leader in eco-conscious fine jewelry, and The Conflict Free Diamond Council (CFDC), an advocacy group dedicated to stopping the sale of conflict diamonds, announced a partnership with Atlanta-based nonprofit MedShare International to send essential medical supplies to two hospitals in Sierra Leone. The supplies will bring sorely needed relief to victims of the global conflict diamond trade.
"Conflict diamonds are responsible for decades of violence and thousands of lives in ruin around the world," said Robert Cosentino, Director of the CFDC. "Through our partnership with Brilliant Earth and MedShare, we hope to bring some relief to victims who continue to live in pain, even though the war has ended."
Conflict diamonds helped fuel a decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone that has left lasting scars on victims whose arms and legs were brutally hacked off. Today, thousands of amputees still wait for justice and fair reparations, years after the civil war has officially ended. Supported by the generosity of the CFDC and Brilliant Earth, MedShare is sending two forty-foot medical containers to hospitals in the Kono and Bo regions of Sierra Leone. In addition to receiving prosthetic limbs to help amputee victims, hospitals will be able to choose the supplies in each container that will be most useful to their patients.
"MedShare's sustainable approach to bringing medical supplies to developing countries not only conserves resources but directs them to where they can help most," said Eric Grossberg, Co-founder of Brilliant Earth. "We know our donation will make a difference where it's needed."
The Conflict Free Diamond Council has been working since 2004 to raise awareness about conflict diamonds, empower the conflict-free diamond consumer, and recommend best practices to the diamond industry. Brilliant Earth donates a percentage of their profits from their collection of conflict free jewelry to help communities who have been harmed by the jewelry trade. MedShare recycles surplus medical supplies and equipment for use in developing countries. The two shipments of medical supplies funded by the partnership are scheduled to arrive in in late 2007 or early 2008.
"Last year, we shipped over $11 million worth of desperately needed medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in over 30 different countries," said A. B. Short, CEO of MedShare. "With the help of our partners and donors, we think we can accomplish even more this year."
For more information on MedShare International, their services, and how you can get involved, visit them at www.medshare.org. For more information on the Conflict Free Diamond Council, visit www.conflictfreediamonds.org. For more information on Brilliant Earth, visit www.brilliantearth.com.
Responsible Diamond Company Takes Commitment to Environmentally Responsible Mining and Conflict Free Diamonds One Step Further
San Francisco, CA (September 2007) - Brilliant Earth, the leader in eco-conscious fine jewelry, announced a new partnership with Canadian environmental nonprofit One Sky and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) to support redevelopment efforts in diamond mining region Kono in Sierra Leone. The Green Diamonds project is working with local communities to restore land devastated by 70 years of unregulated diamond mining through a combination of native species plantation, creek restoration and agriculture land cultivation.
"We believe that on the ground efforts are key to promoting sustainability in diamond mining," said Beth Gerstein, Co-Founder of Brilliant Earth. "The Green Diamonds project is reclaiming lands ravaged by the mining industry, and bringing livelihoods and lasting change to the people of Kono."
Mining as it has traditionally been practiced in Kono, relies on thousands of men and children digging with picks and sieves in difficult conditions often for as little as a plate of rice a day, and enormously underpaid for their discoveries. Currently, the land is devastated with tens of thousands of unregulated mining pits, overturned soils and pools of stagnating mosquito-infested water. One Sky and CSSL efforts will not only improve the landscape, but create sustainable livelihoods by transforming land into organic agriculture plots.
"The relationships we've built over the last four years with the people of Kono have made this project possible," said Michael Simpson, Executive Director of One Sky. "Without people like Michael Aruna, our local agricultural specialist, the Green Diamonds project couldn't be nearly as smart and targeted in its approach."
As part of their mission, Brilliant Earth donates a percentage of their profits to help communities who have been harmed by the jewelry trade. All of the company's diamond and sapphire jewelry meets strict certification as conflict free, environmentally responsible and untainted by unethical labor practices. Brilliant Earth works with a cadre of select suppliers who can verify the complete chain of custody of their goods, from harvesting to finish.
Luxury Collections Source Diamonds with Conflict and Blood Free Origins and Environmentally Responsible Practices
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 2007) - Brilliant Earth, the leader in eco-conscious fine jewelry, announces a new, naturally beautiful collection of conflict free diamonds and ethically sourced sapphires set in eco-friendly precious metals. The company offers ethically sourced precious gemstones that allow customers to enjoy stunning jewelry without compromising their values. Brilliant Earth guarantees that all of their jewelry is flawlessly beautiful - from the inside out.
Brilliant Earth offers engagement and wedding rings that symbolize love, commitment, and values in styles inspired by nature, and an aesthetic that extends from classic to contemporary. Their new collection, the Nature series, showcases Brilliant Earth's ethos of organic beauty in a collection of rings laced with vines, leaves, petals, and buds. The Leaves & Buds, Bouquet, and Vines collection features conflict free, Canadian diamonds set in the form of flower buds. Renewable gold, refined from existing metals, is used in all Brilliant Earth jewelry to reduce gold mining's damaging effects on the environment.
All of the company's diamond jewelry meets strict certification as conflict free, environmentally responsible and untainted by unethical labor practices. Brilliant Earth works with a cadre of select suppliers who can verify the complete chain of custody of their goods, from harvesting to finish.
Brilliant Earth donates 5% of its profits to directly benefit local African communities harmed by the diamond industry.
For more information, visit www.brilliantearth.com.
Brilliant Earth Teams With Marcia Gay Harden On Conflict Free Diamond Pendant Design To Raise $20,000 For Celebrity Charity Auction
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Dec 2006)– As a show of support for environmental and social concerns, Ms. Harden has produced a one-of-a-kind, jeweled "fish lariat" design for auction in partnership with Brilliant Earth. The pendant was auctioned for $20,000, with all proceeds benefiting the Waterkeeper Alliance's efforts to promote clean water campaigns on the national and international level.
A live auction was held at the Celebrity Ski Fest at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City , Utah –– home of the Sundance Film Festival–– featuring two uniquely-crafted jewelry pieces designed by Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden. One lariat was gifted to Ms. Harden the other was auctioned live, fetching a $20,000 bid. The one-of-a-kind "fish lariat" is composed of renewed gold and ethically-mined, conflict-free diamonds, and is the product of a partnership between Ms. Harden and socially and environmentally responsible luxury jeweler, Brilliant Earth. The pendant was crafted to support the WaterKeeper Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving waterways and championing clean water initiatives.
"Brilliant Earth's use of conflict-free diamonds and renewable precious medals is inspirational to me. You can't talk environmentalism on one hand and degrade the earth and human beings on the other. This shows that is possible to be eco-friendly and socially-conscious even with an artful piece of jewelry." – Marcia Gay Harden
Your gift of a diamond could be supporting Terrorism, Civil War, and Environmental Destruction; Unless it's 'conflict-free', you can't be sure
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – People buying diamond rings and jewelry this holiday season may want to ask about the diamond's origin and whether the diamond is 'conflict-free', say human rights advocates working to improve conditions in African communities harmed by the diamond trade.
Conflict diamonds-also referred to as blood diamonds-have come from mines in Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, and other countries. Profits have been linked to financing terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, and have funded civil wars in Africa for years. The mining process has done irreparable harm to the environment and created harsh, slave-like conditions for women and children. Even after the war in Sierra Leone, diamond diggers continue to make less than $1 per day working in unsafe conditions.
"Diamonds have always represented a gift of pure love," said Beth Gerstein, co-president of BrilliantEarth.com, an online retailer offering socially responsible diamonds exclusively. "This holiday season, people should know that they have a choice between conflict-free diamonds which reflect their values, and diamonds tainted by war and suffering."
When Gerstein got engaged to her husband, the couple wanted a ring which represented their values as well as their love. They looked hard for a socially responsible ring but had a hard time finding one. They were further surprised that most retailers were unaware of the issue of conflict diamonds. Beth partnered with long time friend and issue expert Eric Grossberg to open BrilliantEarth.com and create an ethical alternative. Gerstein also co-founded Diamond for Africa Fund (DFA), a non-profit organization working to improve living conditions in the villages most harmed by the blood diamond trade. See www.brilliantearth.com and www.diamondsforafricafund.org.
Brilliant Earth buys all of their diamonds from mines in Canada, which unlike many other countries has stringent standards for diamond mining, including measures to protect the environment and workers rights. 5% of Brilliant Earth's profits go to support Diamonds for Africa.
Early next year, Warner Bros. is due to release "Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly. Set in Sierra Leone in1999, the film will profile the dark side of the blood diamond trade. The film is expected to stir up controversy and increase public demand for conflict-free diamonds. The World Diamond Council has already launched a $15 million PR campaign in advance of the film's release in an attempt to downplay the problem of conflict diamonds to consumers. More than 25% percent of diamond sales occur between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Diamonds for Africa Fund is launching a "Call for Diamonds" to coincide with the release of "Blood Diamond". This nationwide fundraising drive will invite people to donate their previously worn diamond jewelry or make cash donations to directly benefit the San Bushmen in Botswana, improve health and education in villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and help children in Sierra Leone.
"What better way to help those harmed by the blood diamond trade than to build schools and health centers in their communities funded by diamonds people no longer wear?" said Gerstein. Concerned consumers are encouraged to look for the "Call for Diamonds" campaign in December 2006, or contact DFA at (800) 691-0952 for how to participate now.
The Kimberley Process
In 2002 the United Nations approved the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a program designed to decrease the number of conflict diamonds entering the world market. Participating countries claim that rough diamonds originating within their borders are not directly used to finance rebel militias.
Human rights advocates say that the Kimberley Process is flawed. "The Kimberley Process is not solving the problem," said Gerstein. "It only deals with the UN's definition of a conflict diamond; it does nothing to address state sanctioned violence and local brutality in diamond mining. Some estimates say that up to 30% of the rough output of some diamond mines is smuggled out illegally. The only way to ensure that a diamond is 100 percent conflict-free is to purchase from Canadian mines because they track and monitor above and beyond current controls."
About Diamonds for Africa
When Corey Frayer bought a diamond engagement ring for his fiancé, he was appalled to discover a shadowy legacy of poverty and suffering in the conflict diamond trade. He decided to donate his diamond. Corey partnered with Brilliant Earth, a socially conscious jeweler specializing in conflict-free diamonds and environmentally responsible gold, and the Indigenous Land Rights Fund, a non-profit which helps displaced or threatened indigenous communities to create Diamonds for Africa.
Beth Gerstein is an expert source on the issue of conflict diamonds. She is available to comment on the issue of conflict diamonds. For additional information and to schedule interviews please call 800-691-0952.
Conflict Free Diamond Sales Expected To Increase Dramatically Due To Dicaprio Movie, "Blood Diamond"
Diamond Industry Braces for Negative Publicity, Launches Advance PR Campaign to Limit Damage to Christmas Diamond Sales
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Retailers of socially responsible diamonds are expecting a significant increase in sales this winter, thanks to the Warner Brothers Film "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly. The movie, scheduled to be released December 2006, describes Sierra Leone during its upheaval in 1999 and the role conflict diamonds played in the civil war. The film shows rebel armies murdering, raping and mutilating innocent people as they seize control of diamond mines and trade conflict diamonds for arms.
Diamond industry executives are deeply concerned about the impact the film will have on diamond sales. The World Diamond Council, a trade body that represents diamond producers such as De Beers, has launched a $15 million PR campaign in advance of the film's release in an attempt to downplay the problem of conflict diamonds to consumers. More than 25% percent of diamond sales occur between Thanksgiving and New Years.
"Consumers who see this film are going to learn that their diamond purchasing choices have an impact on issues ranging from war in Africa to funding terrorism and destroying the environment," said Beth Gerstein, Director for Diamonds for Africa, a non-profit organization working to end the conflict-diamond trade." Retailers offering conflict free diamonds should expect an increase in attention and sales as the movie is released, and those who do not offer conflict free diamonds should be prepared to explain why."
The only way to ensure that a diamond is conflict free is to purchase diamonds mined in Canada, as they can be tracked and monitored above and beyond current controls. Many countries participate in what is known as the Kimberley Process, a system poorly designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream market.
Gerstein is also co-owner of Brilliant Earth, one of the few diamond retailers worldwide offering exclusively conflict-free diamonds.
Responsible Diamond Retailer and NGO Launch Funding Program to Support Threatened Communities
Responsible Diamond Retailer and NGO Launch Funding Program to Support Threatened Communities
Raleigh, North Carolina – When Corey Frayer proposed to his fiancée, he had no idea the diamond he was offering could lead to anything but a lifetime of happiness. Instead, he discovered a hidden legacy of poverty and suffering surrounding the diamond trade in Africa, the source of much of the world's gem grade diamonds. "Knowing the history of the diamond, my fiancée and I didn't want it to stand as a symbol of our love," said Frayer. "We decided to donate it."
Frayer searched for an organization that helps communities harmed by the diamond trade. He called Brilliant Earth, a socially conscious diamond jewelry retailer which specializes in conflict-free diamonds from Canada. Through their conversations with the human rights group The Indigenous Land Rights Fund (ILRF), the non-profit Diamonds For Africa was born.
Diamonds For Africa was formed to offer aid to victims of the diamond trade. Frayer hopes his donation will launch a national effort to rectify past injustices of the diamond trade by benefiting threatened local African communities. "Part of being a responsible citizen is living your life so that you're contributing to the world and not just taking," says Frayer. "We wanted to do something for the people who have suffered for that diamond."
Diamonds for Africa invites diamond owners to donate their previously worn diamond jewelry or make cash donations by visiting www.diamondsforafricafund.org. "The impact that even a fraction of the value of one diamond can have on these African communities is truly remarkable," says Rupert Isaacson of the ILRF. To help promote Diamonds For Africa, Brilliant Earth is also providing a 5% discount off the purchase of one of their conflict free diamonds to all donors. Brilliant Earth will donate 5% of their profits to Diamonds For Africa and encourages other retailers to do the same. The donated diamonds will be auctioned in October 2006.
Since the 1990s, the diamond trade has fueled bloody civil wars, human rights abuses, child labor and terrorist organizations around the globe. San Bushmen from Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve have been brutally evicted from their homes and their land leased out for diamond exploration. In Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and other areas around the world, the diamond trade continues to fund such misery. Diamonds for Africa works to alleviate these abuses through projects such as funding the Bushmen in their lengthy court battle with the Botswana Government to be allowed to return home and improving health and education in villages in the DRC.
Diamonds For Africa has established a goal of raising $300,000 in 2006 to benefit the San Bushmen and affected communities in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Donations are tax deductible and one hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of donated diamonds will benefit these communities. Diamonds For Africa is planning a live public fundraising event to be held in October in Los Angeles.
San Francisco-based Retailer offers Consumers Socially- and Environmentally-Responsible Buying Choices
San Francisco – Brilliant Earth launches a new collection of distinctive diamond jewelry founded on the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. As growing numbers of luxury consumers embrace responsible buying, the jewelry industry is struggling to provide certified high quality conflict-free diamonds. Brilliant Earth fills that gap, providing a verified source of sustainably-harvested diamonds untarnished by the conflict and oppression that have traditionally characterized the jewelry trade.
Brilliant Earth was created by two socially-minded entrepreneurs based on the belief that socially and environmentally responsible buying choices should be freely available to the consumer. "Consumers are concerned about how the companies they support impact communities, the environment, and rights of indigenous peoples," said Eric Grossberg, cofounder of Brilliant Earth. "Through their purchase decisions, our customers will drive the future of the jewelry industry."
The conflict diamond trade has affected people and nations around the world, fueling bloody civil wars, human rights abuses, child labor and terrorist organizations. Despite widespread acknowledgement in the industry of the existence of conflict diamonds, very few retailers guarantee that their supply is conflict-free. "Brilliant Earth stands out for their commitment to help African communities hurt by the diamond trade by donating a share of their proceeds," said Rupert Isaacson of The Indigenous Land Rights Fund. "Most jewelers continue to ignore the human costs of conflict diamonds, but Brilliant Earth has instilled responsible values into a luxury product line."
Currently available by phone appointment, the Brilliant Earth collection will soon be offered through a full-service online store. For more information on the collection and to learn more about conflict diamonds, please visit www.brilliantearth.com.