The title might sound surprising, even shocking to some. But this is the actual transformation that diamonds have gone through. Before you start wondering how, let’s take one more look at the history of diamonds. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, diamonds were first discovered around 3000 years ago.
Throughout the course of history, men have found the shine and attractiveness of the stone to be irresistible. AS a matter of fact, things haven’t changed much even today. When diamonds were not really considered precious possessions back in the day, there weren’t many wars or deaths associated with these gems. But as soon as their inherent value was understood, it triggered a chain reaction that forced men to do horrible things for possessing these precious stones.
There have been many famous diamonds through history including the Kohinoor, the Shalimar, and the Cullinan diamond – to name a few. Each one of these magnificent stones comes with its own trail of blood and bodies strewn behind as men went to great lengths to possess these legendary gems.
Hard Fact: Blood diamonds or conflict diamonds are diamonds that are either mined illegally or stolen from legitimate mines and then sold on the black market. The proceeds from such diamonds are used to fuel terrorism, war and insurgency.
When Africa found its first diamond mines way back in the early 1800’s, most of the mine owners were either Jewish or Englishmen. The century was one of British dominance in the great African continent. The aboriginals of Africa were being enslaved, victimized and slaughtered in hundreds and thousands. They were forced to work the mines and dig out the stones for the owners. Working conditions were such that dozens of slaves died every day.
Initially the enslaved workers had no idea about the value of the diamonds. But once they realized how precious these stones were, efforts to steal and pillage the stones for themselves started in earnest. The mine owners too recognized this and were known to take extremely severe steps to stop theft. Strip searches were the norm and any worker found stealing was either flogged in public or summarily executed.
In addition to the workers themselves, roving bandits and others would also try to sneak into mines to grab some diamonds. To keep these in check, the mine owners surrounded their stakes with land mines and similar barriers. Guards with watch dogs trained to kill were also deployed. Many men lost their lives or were handicapped for life. Of course, this rarely stopped others from trying.
More recently, in the last few decades, diamonds have also been used to finance coup; insurgents have used the money generated from stolen, illegal diamonds to overthrow governments or spread terror among innocent people. This phenomenon was so widespread that the United Nations had to intervene. Following a meeting of all diamond producing nations, the UN officially introduced the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) requirements in 2003.
Today, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is enforced and except for a few aberrations, all diamonds produced anywhere in the world pass through this certification and scheme.
Diamonds have been attracting mankind from times immemorial and are likely to continue doing so for the next several millennia.
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