Value matters, mainly because the purchases we make as consumers have an impact on our world and its future. We can make choices that represent our principles, whether they are about an electric automobile, locally grown fruit, or jewelry.
Recent advancements have made it feasible to acquire sustainable diamonds without any negative social and environmental consequences, as typically associated with mined diamonds. You can pass down an ethical, clean, and environmentally varied earth to the next generation when you pass down a valuable inheritance.
Be that as it may, despite being a seemingly unproblematic process given these advancements, the extraction of diamonds has numerous social and environmental consequences, leaving impacts at every level of the diamond value chain. Diamonds hold a significant cultural and social significance and are a symbol of prosperity and long-term love. Hence, it is believed that the greater the diamond, the higher the owner’s social position. It may also be seen as a sign of a couple’s increased love or devotion.
While many people respect and cherish diamonds, they have certain negative social consequences, including poor working conditions, child labor, and environmental impacts. While the diamond pipeline has six phases, most of the social and ecological repercussions occur during the diamond mining process, which is unarguably one of the most controversial steps in the whole chain.
Sustainability: A Major Concern
According to a survey produced by De Beers, when consumers buy diamonds, especially younger ones, they prioritize sustainability concerns over conventional aspects, including design and price. They desire exemplary environmental management as well as community support.
The natural diamond business, according to the research, “undeniably—and significantly—positively influences the people and places where diamonds are discovered.”
Although diamond extraction has a low environmental impact, the fact that this sector has attracted many enterprises raises alarm bells. Many workers are required to effectively explore diamonds, from developing equipment to testing the rock itself. Many people are employed at this step in the pipeline, which is beneficial to society. But there is more to it.
The mining stage has the most detrimental social consequences. The majority of nations where diamonds are mined have appalling labor conditions. Africa is recognized for having the poorest working conditions, with miners earning as little as $1 a day. Children are frequently pushed into labor, and while being compelled to create diamonds, they are subjected to physical and sexual torture. Due to inadequate sanitation and living circumstances, various illnesses have developed among them. Besides, diamond mining has several other negative environmental consequences, including soil erosion, deforestation, and ecosystem devastation.
Traditional diamond mining devastates the earth’s fragile terrain, causes irreparable environmental harm, and consumes hundreds of millions of gallons of diesel fuel each year per mine. Pit mining is the most frequent type of diamond mining, whereby stones are extracted straight from a pit in the ground. Pit mining necessitates a great deal of energy because of the heavy machinery, hydraulic shovels, and trucks used.
Given that diamonds are not a renewable resource, even the most ecologically benign diamond mining harms the environment. The Ekati mines in Canada, for example, are frequently recognized as the most ecologically friendly of all mines. However, the same mine creates a yearly carbon footprint equivalent to more than 600 million automobile miles to harvest its diamonds.
Blood diamonds are a significant political consequence of the diamond supply chain, particularly at the mining stage. These are diamonds mined in conflict zones to fund civil conflicts, and since it is hard to trace the origins of diamonds in general, the Kimberly Process was established in 2003. The manufacturers carry out this procedure to verify that the diamonds are not blood diamonds. A certificate is issued to each diamond to establish its provenance. Since its inception, the world’s diamond supply has been confirmed as conflict-free in 99 percent of cases.
Though mining has numerous detrimental effects on society, it has recently been much more controlled. Resultantly, diamonds give many advantages to the nations where they are discovered and mined. They have the greatest financial influence on these countries, particularly in Africa, where they account for a significant portion of their respective GDPs.
However, many so-called conflict-free diamonds are unethical since the Kimberley Process does not protect workers’ rights or provide safe mining conditions. Furthermore, because it is impossible to trace mined diamonds back to their source, the Kimberley Process may not even achieve its own modest goal. It is as simple as paying the proper authority to conceal the origin of a blood diamond and pass it off as a certified diamond.
It is certain that, in the future, there will be a greater focus on supply chain sustainability rather than successful supply networks. As a result, to survive in the long run, manufacturing companies must adapt their strategies quickly in response to shifting possibilities and needs to achieve long-term success. Organizations are under pressure to adopt plans incorporating environmental concerns with their commercial goals as national and worldwide attention to environmental issues grows. Diamond mining enterprises may also be positioned at one of the supply chain’s extreme ends as a raw material provider. As a result, mining industry initiatives to enhance the environment will undoubtedly lessen the environmental impact of the diamond supply chain.
Iris Van der Veken—Executive director, Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)—believes that when challenges surface, the industry should improve collaboration and come together as a whole. Governments, businesses, NGOs, consumers, and society-at-large have a role to play in this shared accountability because collective responsibility is the foundation of a truly sustainable supply chain. Human rights, labor conditions, anti-corruption measures, and environmental effects are intricately intertwined in the manufacturing process. Materials, design, people, distribution, retail, and the connections between these supply chain components necessitate a collaborative effort.
Lastly, the ideals of corporate leadership are crucial. Human rights, gender equality, and ecologically sustainable procurement procedures are among them. These are commitments that cannot be changed.