(Rapaport…February 14, 2005) Amnesty International (AI) reported for Valentine’s Day that while diamond retailers would tout the symbol of love and devotion through sales, consumers can expect little reassurance that their diamonds are not products of war and human rights violations.
Between July and December 2004, AI sent letters and questionnaires to diamond retailers and suppliers in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The survey found that less than one in five companies could provide a meaningful account of their policy to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, AI said.
The report, “Conflict Diamonds: The Valentine’s Day deception,” added that the disappointing results come more than two years after the industry committed itself to a system of self regulation in support of the international Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.
“The trade in conflict diamonds in countries like Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, has already led to the destruction of nations and cost millions of lives. Yet for some companies the response has been, ‘we are not concerned, there are other things more important in life,'” said Alessandra Masci of Amnesty International.
This survey follows one conducted mid-year 2004 in the United Kingdom, and the United States, and according to AI it showed that the diamond industry in
Europe and Australia is even further behind the U.K. and the U.S. in terms of its overall response and implementation of the self-regulation policy.
The organization recommended greater government oversight of the diamond industry’s self-regulation system and urged consumers to press diamond jewelry retailers to follow through on commitments to combat conflict diamond trading. AI said that consumers who buy diamonds on Valentine’s Day should demand written warranties that the diamonds are conflict free.
- Of 291 companies requested, 67 percent failed to respond.
- Of 96 companies that did respond 63 percent had no policy on conflict diamonds; 36 percent have a policy to prevent dealing in conflict diamonds.
- 77 percent of those who have a policy do not provide adequate details on how the system of warranties is being implemented and what polices, procedures and auditing measures companies have in place to back them up.
- 56 percent said they never or rarely asked their suppliers to provide warranties that their diamonds were conflict free
- Less than 20 percent provided their customers with a warranty as standard practice.