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No Blood Spilt Over Certified Diamonds

Sep 11, 2008
Diamonds are big business and worth big bucks. The importance of diamonds being certified is to distinguish between legally and illegally traded gems. Legally traded stones will have come from authorised sources and suppliers, for example the mines in Canada. The trading of illegal stones contributes to warefare in places such as South Africa, generating the term blood diamond. These are the stones that are sold to fund invasions, insurgencies and the illegal activities of warlords.

For a diamond to be classed as legal, or conflict free, the stone must be traceable from mine to customer avoiding any illegal activity, illegal funding or trading and using ethical work practices. Canada is a major player when it comes to certified diamonds and has produced its own rough diamonds legislation. Mining in Canada started in the 1990s and the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act was introduced in 2002. Before this, Canada was a major player in the support of conflict free stones in Africa, dealing with the transfer as well as imports and exports of rough stones. By inscribing the stones with a laser, they can be registered and traced from extraction to sale.

Only 20 per cent of extracted stones are used in the jewelry industry, with 65 per cent of the world's supply coming from Africa. The legal trading of the conflict free stones help to educate children and provide health care in poor communities, proving that taking a pro-active approach to the regulation of mining, trade and sales can have many beneficial effects on the economy. To be of gem quality, a stone is graded according to the 4 C's: Carat, Colour, Cut and Clarity.

The carat of a stone corresponds to the weight and the value. Generally speaking, finger jewelry ranges from one quarter of a carat to 5 carats. The colour of a stone can affect the value too, with the more rare blue and pink stones being worth more than a totally flawless white diamond. The majority of extracted gems have a hue of yellow or brown due to the presence of certain minerals in the formation. The cut of a diamond often depends on the original form of the rough stone. The round brilliant is the most popular as often two can be cut from an original stone due to the shape of the crystalline structure. The number of facets that can be cut into a round brilliant gives a highly reflective quality and is said to produce a stone that sparkles more than any other cut. Finally, the clarity of the stone determined the refractive qualities, with the clearest, or flawless stones being worth the most. Cloudy formations and cracks are often so small that they can only be detected under magnification. These imperfections are also useful tools in identifying and tracing diamonds, acting like a fingerprint for classification.

The 4 C's are not of any importance in the value of industry grade diamonds, the most important factor is the hardness of the stone. Eighty per cent of the world production of this precious stone is for industrial uses. They are used for the tips of drill bits, embedded in saw blades and fine powders are used for polishing. Even gem quality stones have industrial uses when they are too small to be used in jewelry. Synthetic diamond production is on the increase for industrial use and as gem stones. The production is still nowhere near as high as the amounts that are being mined annually and they are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from natural stones. However, the certification process ensures that the consumer knows what is being bought whether synthetic or natural, with the peace of mind that no blood was spilt in the process.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is an expert in the diamond industry.
Find out more about certified diamonds and the cut, colour, clarity and carat available at Diamond Manufacturers.
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