The Issues

General Questions

What are “Conflict” or “Blood” Diamonds?

Rapaport Fair Trade defines a “conflict” or “blood” diamond as a diamond which comes from a mine located in or providing profits to any of the following: civil conflict; an illegitimate rebel movement; an oppressive regime; or a violation of the Rapaport Minimum Human Rights Standard. A conflict diamond is also a diamond which is mined, cut or polished under harmful or unjust labor conditions.

A conflict diamond is NOT only a diamond that violent rebel movements opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments. This has been the definition since the inception of the Kimberley Process in 2002 – and it is a definition which no longer applies in today’s political and social world climate. Using only this partial definition of “conflict” can be harmful and destructive to miners in countries that have other kinds of conflicts raging in and around their diamond mines.

So how can a diamond really be “conflict-free”?

A diamond – or other mined precious commodity – could be legitimately labeled “conflict-free” if its journey can be tracked from the mine to the jewelry store. In some cases, like that of a Canadian diamond or a diamond from a large scale mine in a politically stable country, this is a relatively easy process and such a stone could easily be verified as conflict-free. In other cases, the process is more complex. The Rapaport Group is working towards Rapaport Ethical Certification for mining companies and producers from small scale and artisanal mining operations in Sierra Leone to the largest operations in Botswana or Canada’s Northwest Territories.

What is the jewelry supply chain?

The supply chain is the path that diamonds, gold and other components of jewelry take from the mines (or other point of origin) to the finished jewelry product. The general supply chain includes the mine, a sorting operation, a cutting and polishing or refining operation, a manufacturer, and the jewelry retail store. All these components change depending on the exact nature of the product.

How do you define “Ethical” when it comes to diamonds and jewelry?

“Ethical” is a term that we use to indicate that a product has upheld the Rapaport Minimum Human Rights Standard, has not contributed to violent conflict at its origin or at any point along its supply chain, and is legal for sale at all points on its supply chain. This description includes products defined as “Recycled,” “Fair Trade” or “Fairtrade.” Many of those products also go beyond a minimum ethical standard. Rapaport Ethical Certification will certify diamonds with its laser inscribed seal after independent third party auditors have determined that they meet the required standards. Learn more about Rapaport certified ethical diamonds.

I see “Fair Trade” on everything these days! What does it mean?

There are many different definitions of Fair Trade. At Rapaport, it means a product which has met the following four conditions:

  1. Fair wages to all those working along the supply chain
  2. Community benefit to the people who live in the area of the mine
  3. Do No Harm – no displacement of peoples, fully upheld labor regulation, no aiding conflict or violence
  4. Monitoring of the mining and production sites by an impartial and credible organization

The process of meeting these conditions isn’t so simple. At this time we do not offer Rapaport Fair Trade Certification. However, we will be launching a Rapaport Ethical Certification in the near future. For more information or to become certified, please contact us.

What about when it’s written as one word: “Fairtrade”?
This is a trademarked term of the Fairtrade Foundation. See for more information.

What is the Rapaport Minimum Human Rights Standard?

The Rapaport Minimum Human Rights Standard is a standard which we believe needs to be upheld as a baseline, minimum requirement for all diamonds, colored gemstones and precious metals. It mandates that all goods must be legal and not directly involved in severe human rights violations in order to be sold in the global marketplace. “Directly involved in severe human rights violations” is defined as diamonds whose physical production involved murder, rape, physical violence or forced servitude. Learn more about the Rapaport Minimum Human Rights Standard from the transcript of Martin Rapaport’s 2010 speech to the Indian diamond industry.

What are recycled diamonds and gold? Is this like recycled paper?

Sort of! This refers to a good, such as diamonds or gold, which is not newly mined and has been reintroduced to the supply chain through refining or reworking. Recycled diamonds are post-consumer products, while recycled gold and other precious metals may be either post-consumer products or formerly scrap metal. The origins of recycled diamonds or gold are not verifiable, but they do guarantee:

  1. The supplier is not involved in any way in financing or funding conflict, money-laundering or terrorism.
  2. The refiner utilizes environmentally conscious processes and takes precautions to ensure that workers are not exposed to toxic or dangerous materials.

Current Events

I keep seeing things about Zimbabwe in the news. Are all the diamonds from Zimbabwe unethical?

Diamonds that come from the Marange region of Zimbabwe are considered suspect and are banned from RapNet, the Rapaport Diamond Trading Network, because of international concern over human rights abuses, use of diamond profits to encourage a corrupt regime, and U.S./EU sanctions prohibiting the diamonds from entering the U.S. or EU member states. For more information please visit our Zimbabwe section of the Library. You will find extensive background information on this situation and our position over the past years.

What exactly is the Kimberley Process?

The Kimberley Process (KP) was established in 2003 as an effort by diamond producing countries, industry groups, and civil society to stem the trade in “rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.” Though the KP established an effective system for controlling the flow of these particular diamonds, the political situation in many diamond-producing nations has changed and these diamonds are no longer the main concern of those interested in sourcing ethical diamonds. The KP does not have the authority to control or prevent the sale of diamonds associated with human rights abuses, and it should not be relied upon to do so.

What are the implications of the new Kimberley Process certified Marange diamonds?

These diamonds should NOT be considered conflict-free and should therefore be avoided by all responsible industry members and consumers. In order to develop a solution to this problem, other organizations, such as the Rapaport Group, will develop alternative certification methods that deal with ethical issues.

What should be in place before Zimbabwean diamonds from the Marange region can be brought back onto the market legitimately?

The following four conditions, laid out by Martin Rapaport during his August 2010 speech to the Indian diamond industry, need to be in place before Marange diamonds can be placed on the market legitimately.

  1. Cessation of abuses in Zimbabwe
  2. Free access of trade and NGOs to monitor the situation
  3. Funding reaches national treasury and creates economic benefit for the people of Zimbabwe
  4. Diamonds are legal in all major centers of trade – there are currently OFAC and EU sanctions against owners of the Marange mines

Can the Kimberley Process get back on track? Can they redefine “conflict” or “blood diamonds”? Set stricter standards?

There is no such thing as “back on track.” The Kimberley Process was not created to stop the flow of blood diamonds – diamonds associated with human rights abuses, so it cannot be expected to stop the flow of these diamonds. Because of the organizational structure of the Kimberley Process, it is highly unlikely that it will change its mission to include monitoring of these diamonds.