Just Another Form of Carbon? • The Ancient Greeks thought diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to earth • 75-120 miles below earth’s surface, extreme heat and pressure cause carbon atoms to crystallize • Diamonds are carried to the earth’s surface during volcanic eruptions, where they must cool quickly or turn into graphite or carbon dioxide.
Origin of the Diamond Mystique • Diamonds were first discovered in river beds in India in the 4th Century BCE. • The first recorded diamond engagement ring was given to the Duchess of Burgundy in 1477, though the tradition of exchanging wedding rings dates back as far back as the 2nd century BCE.
Why Diamonds? • Before 1938, diamonds did not hold the power that they do today • Average price of a diamond was only $80 in N. America • De Beers Diamond Corporation decided to use advertising and the media to convince young men and women that diamonds were actually symbols of love.
Marketing of Diamonds • De Beers decided on a slogan: “A Diamond is Forever” • By 1950, 90% of young men proposed marriage with a diamond ring • It is common and expected that a man spend at least one month’s salary to buy an engagement ring, and that diamonds are the only way to express true love.
“A Diamond is Forever” • De Beers encouraged jewelers to loan diamonds to Hollywood stars for prestigious events, solidifying the diamond’s association with wealth, power, prestige, and celebrity • Diamond movement received boost when Marilyn Monroe starred in film “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds”, sang the song, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”
Where Do Diamonds Come From? • 70% of the world’s diamonds come from places where Africans are indigenous to the land • Most of the diamond deposits currently mined in places such as Sierra Leone and Angola are alluvial, requiring only a shovel, a pan, and hard labor to mine.
The Illusion of Scarcity • The price of diamonds depends on the perception of scarcity. • Perception: Diamonds are rare = prices skyrocket • Perception: Diamonds are plentiful = prices plummet • Until 1870s, found only in river beds in India & Brazil • 1870s large diamond deposits discovered in S. Africa • A group of diamond investors formed De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. to help control diamond production, thereby perpetuating the illusion of scarcity.
Review… • Before 1870, why were diamonds so expensive? • How did DeBeers Diamond Corporation impact the perception of diamonds in society? • What is the “illusion of scarcity”?
Diamonds to Fund Violence • The artificially high price of diamonds has encouraged rebels to take control of diamond mining areas in hopes of making a quick and substantial profit. • Rebel groups such as the RUF (the Revolutionary United Front) in Sierra Leone, force civilians to mine for diamonds.
Diamonds Fund Conflicts • The Term “Blood Diamond” is used to describe a diamond mined in a war zone, and usually used to finance that war. • Other terms for Blood Diamonds are: • Dirty Diamonds • Conflict Diamonds • War Diamonds.
Diamonds Fund Conflicts • Rebel groups use the profits (up to $300 million a year) to buy small arms and supplies to wage war • Over 6 million people from Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have become refugees after being forced from their homes by diamond fueled conflict. • Millions more have died in diamond related conflicts over the past decade.
Civil Rights Abuses • Rebel cruelty in many conflict areas is well documented, and includes • Abduction and training of child soldiers • Amputation • Abduction of males as diamond mine workers • Atrocities against women
The Kimberley Process • The Kimberley Process (2003)requires participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are conflict free • The diamond industry also voluntarily agreed to implement a System of Warranties, designed to help trace rough diamonds from mining to point of sale.
“Conflict Free Diamonds?” • Because diamonds are small and easy to transport, it is difficult to track all diamonds leaving a given country. • Diamonds from conflict regions are often mixed with legitimate diamonds and certified as conflict free.