The way people mine diamonds and how these precious stones come to adorn our jewelry is very harmful to our world. This industry comes with a lot of issues and, until recently, there was no talk about it. However, today we have access to more information and one of the best ways to make a positive change is to be informed. Find out more about diamonds and discover what the alternative of clean diamonds is all about. Read on to understand why sustainability is important and why you should avoid the diamond mining industry.

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Where & how do people mine diamonds?

The fiery precious stones that we all love come from a specific type of volcanic eruption – the Kimberlite eruption. The most recent Kimberlite eruption happened over 100 million years ago. There are three ways to mine diamonds from Kimberlite: alluvial, pipe, and marine mining.

Alluvial mining happens when natural forces wash diamonds from the kimberlite pipes to riverbeds and beaches. However, to control this process, people divert rivers and build walls to expose the ocean bed or the dry river and find these gems more easily. This poses a problem for the environment as when rivers change course, vegetation, and animals in certain areas have to suffer.

To mine diamonds through alluvial mining, people have to wait for the diamonds to rise through the Kimberlite pipes. Because of high demands and to eliminate the wait, people invented the pipe mining method. This method allows miners to strike the kimberlite pipes, either through open-pit diamond mining or underground mining.

The third method is marine mining, which extracts the gems from the ocean floor. Miners can either use a crawler that sucks gravel from the ocean floor through vertical pipes or a ship-mounted drill. It is needless to say that both methods disturb the marine ecosystem.

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The Kimberly Process for diamond mining

In the past years it became clear that, because of their value and rarity, diamonds fuel civil unrest and wars. Twenty years ago, the international community established the Kimberly Process which is a zero-tolerance policy for the use of conflict diamonds. This involves both companies that mine diamonds and jewelry retailers that sell diamond jewelry. Each rough diamond needs to come with a certificate to make sure it doesn’t come from a conflict zone.

However, there are many issues with the Kimberly Process. The main one is that the definition of “conflict-free” diamonds refers only to diamonds that finance rebel movements against recognized governments. Another problem is that the Kimberley Process doesn’t require diamonds tracing to their mines of origin. This allows people and companies to smuggle these precious stones as to obtain conflict-free certifications and enter the market. And last, but not least, the Kimberly process doesn’t take into account the human rights abuse and environmental degradation that is the result of mining for these gemstones.

The 3 main problems of companies that mine diamonds

While not all companies that mine diamonds fuel violence and conflict in developing communities, all of them harm the environment.

Because of weak regulation, diamond mining has severely damaged the land and water. When rivers change course unnaturally, entire ecosystems collapse. Soil erosion and deforestation are also the results of irresponsible mining. In some cases, entire communities had to relocate because of aggressive diamond mining. The impact of the diamond industry on the environment is huge.

Another issue of mining for these gems is about child labor and/or unfair wages and working conditions. Even today children in developing communities are exploited and forced to mine diamonds. In Africa, a million diamond diggers earn less than $1 per day. The working conditions are very unsafe and sometimes workers mine diamonds without proper tools, safety equipment, or even basic training.

Last, but not least, there is also the matter of violence which hasn’t been solved by the Kimberly Process. Even though many civil wars have now ended, developing communities still suffer in the process of mining for these precious stones. From forced labor and beating to torture and even murder, there are severe human rights abuses in the mining industry.

A clean alternative to mined diamonds

fair trade diamond jewelry

By now it is probably clear that we shouldn’t mine diamonds. Not when the effects are so severe. But does this mean that we have to give up diamond jewelry altogether? No, it doesn’t. The perfectly traceable and clean alternative are lab-grown diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds have the same qualities as the mined ones, but none of the issues. They are created in laboratories, by employees who are paid fairly and have good working conditions. As opposed to the mining industry, when people grow diamonds in labs the environment doesn’t suffer. No rivers are being diverted, no marine life is being destroyed and no forests are being cut down.

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At Ana Luisa, we strongly believe that lab-grown diamonds represent the future and the promise of a better world. This is why our diamond jewelry features only lab-grown diamonds that look spectacular and are environmentally-friendly. We also use recycled gold and silver in our jewelry so that we don’t support the harmful gold mining industry. If you want to learn more about our environmental goals or simply want to check out our ethical jewelry collections, visit Ana Luisa online jewelry shop. Get unique, gorgeous jewelry that doesn’t come at the expense of our Planet.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.