WASHINGTON - February 10 - For those looking for the perfect diamond, human rights groups got what you need. Amnesty International and Global Witness today made public a simple, new guide, 'Are you looking for the perfect diamond?', to help shoppers ensure the diamonds they buy are conflict-free - - that they have not been traded to fund armed conflict and civil war.
On Valentine's Day, activists with Amnesty International groups in more than 40 cities nationwide will distribute the guide to their communities via informational sessions and tabling at local shopping venues. Available to the general public, the guide can also be read and downloaded online at http://www.amnestyusa.org/buyconflictfree and http://www.globalwitness.org.
This guide is a valuable tool for shoppers who might be looking for a special gift that will last forever. It recommends that as well as the usual 4 C's -- color, cut, clarity and carat -- shoppers should also ask about conflict before making their purchase.
"We created this guide because people contact us every day wondering how they can ensure the diamonds they buy are not supporting civil war and human rights abuses," said Amy O'Meara of Amnesty International USA's Business & Human Rights Program.
"Diamonds are supposed to be symbols of love and devotion and people want to be 100 percent certain that the stone they are buying is clean. Despite some progress within the industry, many jewelers still can't make this guarantee."
Conflict diamonds are those sold in order to fund armed conflict and civil war. Warlords and rebel groups in countries including Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia and Sierra Leone have used billions of dollars of profits from the sale of diamonds from the mines they control to buy arms and fund devastating wars. Diamonds mined in rebel-held areas in Cote d'Ivoire, a West African country in the midst of a volatile conflict, are currently reaching the international diamond market. This underground commerce was tragically depicted in the recent film Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage.
The guide explains that consumers in the United States can make a difference by insisting that the diamond industry keep the promises it has made to end the trade in conflict diamonds (1). It recommends that prior to their diamond purchase shoppers ask retailers the following questions:
-- Do you know where the diamonds you sell originate?
-- May I see a copy of your company's policy on conflict diamonds?
-- Would you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers that proves your diamonds are conflict free?
Global Witness campaigner Susie Sanders added:
"We are making it easy for shoppers to find out if the jeweler they choose is committed to conflict free. Diamonds may be expensive, but they shouldn't cost lives."
'Are you looking for the perfect diamond?' is now available online at http://www.amnestyusa.org/buyconflictfree and http://www.globalwitness.org
Note to editors
(1) In 2003, in response to a major international campaign and significant media attention to the consequences of the trade in conflict diamonds, an international certification scheme called the Kimberley Process was launched. A Kimberley Process certificate, guaranteeing diamonds as conflict free, should accompany all shipments of rough diamonds to and from participating countries. All sectors of the diamond industry also agreed to a voluntary system of warranties to ensure diamonds continue to be tracked right up to the point of sale. This is what consumers are entitled to ask about.