Before you show off your rock, make sure your hands are clean.
As a social entrepreneur, activist, and former vegan, the lovely Natalie Portman tends to steal the spotlight and use it as a public service announcement, rather than a publicity stunt. By flaunting her wedding band, she’s made a vow not only to her husband, but also to humanity. Set in recycled and vintage titanium, her diamond is certified conflict-free. What does conflict-free mean? Exactly what it sounds like. The stone Natalie wears – one of Earth’s most precious and treasured – was mined, cut, and exported outside of the bloody business that is the African diamond trade.
Despite being plagued with disease and poverty, Africa is a rich country; it’s resources, both tapped and buried, are the most sought-after in the world. What’s standing in the way of extracting these goods is the same issue that’s preventing the nation from being safe and civilized: war. Not a war with trained, registered soldiers or even with enemy lines. But one where greedy warlords put guns in the hands of children and money in the pockets of the government, taking food out of the mouths of their people and taking every ounce of profit from exploited resources. Corporate mining companies won’t set foot on the continent, thus making proper machinery unavailable to the African miners. Villagers are forced to dig and crawl into the mines to retrieve the diamonds that the rest of the world demands with a blind eye.
We’re broke,” Juma Mafu, a citizen of a mining village tells National Geographic reporter Marcus Bleasdale. “We’ve got a lot of gold but no machines to get it out. Our diggers use their hands. No big companies are ever going to come here unless we have peace.”
Finally exposure of this issue has come in the form of activism, legislation, and the media, the movie Blood Diamond being both a blockbuster hit and eye opening cry for help. But, while the passing of the Kimberly Process by the World Diamond Council attempted to stop the illegal diamond trade, or at least make it more transparent, the degree of corruption in Africa trumped this effort. Now the only way to guarantee your diamond doesn’t come with blood on the price tag is to buy conflict-free jewelry. Concerned, honest companies like Bashford Jewelry stand by their product and urge all consumers to research before they buy jewels. Join Natalie Portman, other brides, and consumers worldwide who are taking a stand and making sure their purchases do not support exploited labor or violence.