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How we Source Conflict-Free Diamonds

Frank Darling has a zero-tolerance policy for conflict diamonds. We enforce this in three ways: adhering to the Kimberley Process, buying directly from the source, and avoiding countries with poor track records for human rights and conflict.

The Kimberley Process

The Kimberley process is an international process used to certify conflict-free diamonds. Participants in the Kimberley Process must:

Provide conflict-free certification for diamond shipments

Trade only with members who satisfy the agreement

Commit to transparent processes and data exchange

The KP is enforced by the US Customs Service at the port of entry. Currently, KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.

Known Shortcomings

While the Kimberley Process has removed the vast majority of conflict diamonds from the market, it is not without fault. Problems include:

Narrow Focus: The Kimberley process is overdue for reform. The narrow focus on the activities of anti-government rebel groups overlooks basic human rights protections and human rights abuses connected with diamond production in countries such as Zimbabwe.

Lack of Oversight: There is little independent monitoring of compliance and few penalties for violation.

Bad Actors: The group appointed to govern the KP is a consensus-driven organization. This prevents the evolution of the legislature, as well as actions against members who violate the rules.

Direct from the Source  

Diamonds can change hands up to 50 times from mine to market. Their small size and high value makes them difficult to trace, and prone to criminal behavior.

Frank Darling believes the most reliable way to ensure supply chain integrity is by purchasing directly from the source. The majority of our conflict-free diamonds are purchased directly from diamond sight-holders. Diamond sight-holders are authorized bulk purchasers of rough diamonds directly from the mines.

Our partners purchase from mining operations in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and Canada. While these countries are not without challenges, they have taken significant strides towards environmental, economic and social responsibility.

Botswana

Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value. Mining contributes to a significant part of their GDP and has made it one of the fastest growing economies. It is rated as the least corrupt country in Africa and has the fourth highest gross national income. It is regarded as a shining example of the positive impact the diamond industry can have on mineral-rich countries.

South Africa

South Africa is well known for its mineral riches, and diamond mining is largely responsible for the development and rapid expansion of its economy. While the South African mining industry has been criticized in the past for its poor safety record and reliance on top-down reform, recent changes have been implemented to change this.

In February 2018 former miner Gwede Matashe was named Minister of Mineral Resources with a mission to “reboot” the diamond mining industry and take a more grassroots approach to improve mining culture, accountability, and safety. His initial focus is on dust management and noise reduction.

Namibia

Similar to Botswana and South Africa, mining is the largest contributor to Namibia’s economy. The majority of Namibia’s revenue comes from diamond mining. The country boasts a stable financial sector, and impressive growth. Over the past decade there has been a shift towards marine mining where rock, rich with mineral deposits, is extracted from the sea floor.  Home to the world’s richest marine-diamond deposit it’s estimated that 80 million carats are within the Namibian waters deep beneath the Atlantic.

Canada

Canadian diamonds were discovered in the early 1990’s. Currently, Canada is one of the largest diamond producers in the world. Environmentally responsible mining is a key focus of the Canadian mining industry. Canadian diamond mines are overseen by the Canada Mining Regulations for the Northwest Territories. This program ensures the preservation of surrounding land and aquatic habitats.

Zimbabwe Policy

While recognized under the Kimberley Process, Zimbabwe has a long history of human rights concerns related to the Marange Diamond Fields and Artisanal riverbed mining. Documented infractions include forced labor, torture, harassment and use of tear gas. While recent steps have been made to empower artisanal miners, at this time we can’t endorse the purchase of diamonds from Zimbabwe. While conflict-free diamonds sold on the general wholesale market may be from Zimbabwe, our partnership with diamond sightholders helps us to avoid these contentious stones.

What are heirloom diamonds?

Heirloom diamonds, or recycled diamonds are estimated to be over 10% of the global supply of diamonds. They are rarely labeled as such, and generally, sell for the same price as newly mined diamonds.

Heirloom diamonds have the smallest environmental footprint out of any of our offerings and are without a doubt the most sustainable option. We carry a wide range of heirloom diamonds in both modern and antique cuts.

What are lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, optically and physically identical to natural diamonds. All Frank Darling lab-grown diamonds are IGI certified, and graded using the same certification process as natural mined diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds are an environmentally friendly alternative to natural mined diamonds. Because of they are not a finite resource, and due to the decreasing cost of the technology used to produce them, they are up to 40% less expensive than mined diamonds.

How do you use Blockchain to improve traceability?

The diamond industry is one of the first to embrace blockchain technology as a means of establishing diamond provenance and traceability. To date, more than 1.6 million diamonds have been registered on the blockchain. This is a rapidly evolving part of the industry and we are proud to be a pioneer.

Due to a  rare alignment of consumer and industry benefits — including the protection of diamond value, improvements in responsible sourcing, and reduced risk of fraud — adoption has been swift and meaningful. With two out of the three major diamond mining corporations invested in this initiative, we believe it’s only a matter of time before this technology transforms the diamond supply landscape.