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Ethical sourcing and the Lesedi la Rona

Ethical sourcing and the Lesedi la Rona

The ͞Lesedi la Rona͟At 1109-carats, the largest gem-quality rough diamond to be discovered in over a century and the largest rough diamond in existence today. Estimated in excess of $70 millionCredit: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby's

Blinkered by the current demands for ethically sourced stones, I was surprised when openly told just how easy it is to certify conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, on a trip to South Africa.

Although the Kimberly Process (KPCS) has regulated the trade of conflict diamonds since 2000, its process only specifies diamonds that fund rebel action, and therefore cannot certify diamonds tainted by violence, poverty, child labour, killings, rape, corruption and environmental devastation.

So just how many stones out there are classed as ‘conflict free’?


We can only presume that the recently sold Petra’s pink diamond, the De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 or the upcoming Lesedi la Rona, have not financed civil wars or are involved in such abuses.

Understanding the mine to market process is incredibly important, and although the term ‘ethically sourced’ has become misrepresented, we must push for mining conditions free from conflict and in accordance with labour and environmental standards.

Canadian diamonds hold the benchmark for being the most ethically mined in the world. However, adhering to strict labour and environmental laws incur higher costs. For many lesser developed countries this is reason enough for them not to invest in heavily mechanised mining techniques.

Yet Botswana and Namibia; unlike other countries such as Zimbabwe, Angola and Cote D’ivoire, are working hard to manage their sourcing and principles of fair-trade mining.

As the first rough diamond to be placed in an international public sale at Sotheby’s, we hope this will bring attention and shed more light on the issue of conflict free stones.

This article was originally published by Angharad Guy FGA on her LinkedIn profile and has been reproduced here with her kind permission.

To find out more about the issues surrounding the mining of diamonds and other gemstones, please see our article on Entering The Ethical Maze.

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