Gemstones. Diamonds. Precious metals. Beautiful to behold, a feast for the senses and occasionally a source of human misery. They come from all over the world; Unfortunately, some of them come from regions torn apart by war and brutal human rights violation. It’s hard to appreciate the staggering beauty of a magnificent ruby when you know that real human beings suffered terribly for it.
We encourage our clients to shop for conflict-free stones. They’re often as beautiful, if not more so, than stones sourced from troubled countries. If you’re looking for a reason why you should consider buying conflict-free gemstones, look no further: We’ve got three compelling reasons right here!
Buying “conflict-free’ is another way of saying “cruelty-free.” Conflict gems are mined in war-torn regions who use the money from those sales to finance their wars. The mine workers are often slaves, forced into working off huge debts that they will end up passing on to their children. There’s little in the way of safety oversight at these mines, so the risk of being grievously injured and possibly even killed while on the “job” is high.
The profits from conflict mines don’t just fund terrible, violent activities in the Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. They’re also used to finance global threats, which include organized crime groups like the Russian Mafia and terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. These stones are also used to support human trafficking groups.
While there are laws in place to curtail conflict stones, the truth is they can be hard to trace. Many conflict mines have adapted with the times and ship their stones to compliant countries to make them seem “conflict-free”. So even if you purchase a stone that isn’t from a conflicted region like Sierra Leone, you may still be purchasing a conflict gem if you’re not careful. Countries where these blood stones get passed through to make them seem legitimate include:
• Central African Republic
• Congo Republic
Conflict mines are often put together hastily. Poorly planned and unregulated, these mines don’t just pose a threat to their workers: They can have a profoundly damaging effect on the environment.
Irresponsible mining can cause soil erosion, deforestation and forces local populations and wildlife to relocate. Conflict miners have been known to reroute rivers and construct dams so they can expose those riverbeds for mining. In some cases, conflict mining can cause an entire ecosystem to crumble by destroying topsoil, rendering farmland infertile and polluting local water sources with mosquito infestations, malaria, and other water-borne diseases. Buying conflict free stones is a great way to help Mother Earth by preserving landscapes that would have been despoiled by mining.
You might think that conflict stones are cheaper because they’re sourced from such shady backgrounds. That isn’t the case: the truth is that conflict-free gemstones are often sold at the same price OR cheaper than conflict gemstones. When you aren’t buying conflict-free, not only are you inadvertently supporting global instability, you also aren’t doing your pocketbook any favors. Buying conflict-free isn’t just ethical, it can be economical!