Foreign Policy magazine has an excellent photo essay entitled Trail of Diamonds by photographer Kadir Van Lohuizen which follows the life of a diamond from the mines in Africa where people work 12 hours shifts a day in return for meals (no pay) to the sweat shops in India that control 70% of the world’s diamond cutting, to the jewelry store where we buy them.
It makes me sad that so many people suffer for items of such great beauty. Initially it even made me want to stop buying diamonds, but then I decided that would do more harm than good because it would only serve to put these poor people out of work entirely.
I mean, if you think about it the only people who would accept these working conditions are the ones who have absolutely no other options. It’s quite depressing.
Here is a long article that was a real eye opener. Not from the standpoint of the working conditions or detailing conflict diamonds but on how the idea of the diamond being rare and valueable is a result of marketing manipulation that started around 1940. It is an impressive case study on how DeBeers took control of a market and worked for generations to develop a mind set in America to be what it is today.