How Canada’s dazzling future in diamonds ended in fraud allegations – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – January 14, 2019)

This is not going to be a column about the manufactured consumption of diamonds. But it is going to be a column about the manufacture — the cutting and polishing — of diamonds.

The news from Tiffany & Co. of a diamond provenance initiative is welcome. Steps the company has taken as of this week — providing geographic sourcing information for individual diamonds — will be ramped up in 2020 when the New York jewelry house begins sharing the “craftsmanship journey,” as in, where those stones were turned into princess-cut bedazzlers. Do you want your diamond to be ethically sourced? Of course you do.

Some may think, brightly: Tiffany-blue ring boxes, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn. Others may think, insightfully: conflict diamonds, blood diamonds, child labour. I think, simply: Northwest Territories, squandered economic opportunity, a sprinkling of fraud. They’re all connected. Human rights abuses abroad bleed as deeply through the mining of diamonds as those kimberlite pipes that plunge beneath the Arctic surface.

When Human Rights Watch launched its #BehindTheBling campaign last year, just in time for Valentine’s Day, it was to push, again, for the responsible sourcing of gems through highly complex supply chains. U.S. Department of Labor data documented ongoing child and forced labour in the extraction of diamonds in Liberia, Angola, Guinea, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The bling campaign lauded points of progress (responsible gold sourcing, for example), and broad deficiencies in the diamond trade, and challenged a group of 13 jewelry companies, including Tiffany, Cartier and Chopard, to ensure that their supply chains are abuse free. It is to this that Tiffany has stepped up.

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