Conflict diamonds, sometimes called blood diamonds, recently received publicity through the release of the movie "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou.

The sale of such diamonds on the black market are used to finance very violent conflicts in some African countries - Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo. Therefore tracing where diamonds come from became internationally important in the fight against brutal regimes, criminal gangs and terrorist groups.

In 2000, the World Diamond Council was created which went on to develop a system called the Kimberley Process or Protocol to ensure that only legitimate rough diamonds (like the one in the picture) make it into the diamond supply chain. By 2004, the Canadian Government as Chair of the Kimberley Process reported that 99.8% of rough diamonds are now certified to be from conflict-free sources. The process involves the transportation of rough diamonds in sealed, tamper-proof containers accompanied by forgery-resistant and serially numbered certificates to countries all over the world where they are traded, cut, polished and sold.

There was much excitement when Canadian diamonds were first discovered in the 1990's in the north not just because it was a large source making Canada amongst the top three diamond producers in the world, but because of the high quality and the "clean" status - ie not used to fund terror. Canadian diamonds are laser-etched with a very tiny polar bear (and serial number) as a trademark to prove their origin!

It is important to realise the sale of legitimate diamonds support a lot of people worldwide - some 10 million according to the Diamond Facts Organisation website below. They also report that "In 2002, approximately 15% of total employment in the Canadian Northwest Territories was related to diamond" !

So if you are in the market for this popular gemstone, make sure you buy a certified diamond from a reputable jeweler. Better yet, buy a Canadian diamond!

"Blood Diamond" movie info :

CNN news : "Diamond trade fuel bloody wars" (2004)

BBC news : "Conflict diamonds still on sale (2004)

CBC in depth news : "Canada's Diamond Rush" (2004):

PBS's The Hunt for Diamonds in the Artic

Diamond Facts Organisation :