RAPAPORT… Ahead of the Blood Diamond film release on December 8, the United States State Department said that illegal trade in conflict diamonds has been sharply reduced in recent years.
Seeking to avert backlash from the film, deputy assistant secretary of state, Paul Simons told journalists, “We feel the film provides a good historical snapshot of the diamond industry, particularly back in 1999, but we feel we have come a long way since the blood atrocities depicted in that movie,” during a briefing on December 4.
Simons noted that in the late 1990’s, between 4 to 15 percent of the world’s diamonds were believed to come from conflict areas, but this has now been reduced to less than 1 percent.
“Kimberly has fundamentally reformed the rules of the game for trade of rough diamonds,” Simons added. “The Kimberly Process covers the vast majority of the world’s rough diamond trade today and we think it indicates a good success story for multilateral diplomacy.”
The United States has been keeping a “vigilant eye” to curb the illicit diamond trade, he concluded.
Blood Diamond, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, is about an ex-mercenary who smuggles diamonds out of conflict-ridden Sierra Leone during the late 1990’s. The profits from these conflict diamonds were often used to buy guns.
A Kimberley Process participant, the United States buys approximately half of the world’s diamonds. Many jewelers and diamond industry players are concerned that the film will lead consumers to believe that they are buying goods from conflict zones, negatively impacting the industry’s peak sales period.