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Blood Diamonds

  1. Apr 27, 2007 #1
    I just saw Blood Diamond. I dont know how to say this, but I am never going to buy a diamond in my life.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2007 #2
    What does Starbucks have to do with this?
  4. Apr 27, 2007 #3


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    Wars aside, diamonds are an incredibly poor "investment". They are common gemstones and the only reason that the price stays high is that DeBeers has a lock on the diamond trade and they dribble them onto the market slowly enough to keep the price from dropping. Good-quality rubies, sapphires, and emeralds have real value on the world market, as do exotics like Tsavorite (bright green garnet) and Alexandrite.
  5. Apr 27, 2007 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Ever since Tsu lost her $3500 diamond bracelet, diamonds aren't high on my list.
  6. Apr 27, 2007 #5


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    Don't forget the marketing, Turbo: "Diamonds are forever" turns diamonds into heirlooms, ensuring they stay off the market and that also keeps the prices up.
  7. Apr 27, 2007 #6
    Don't you guys wanna throw up at the thought of buying conflict diamonds? That diamond pendent, or bracelet, or ear ring or whatever probably cost someone their arm or leg, possibly their life, the lives of their sons, and daughters, and their wives. It cost children their childhood, a family their food, caused the destruction, no, annihilation of whole villages, and for what? So the people who caused all this can buy more guns? So they can decimate some other village?

    You're encouraging people to kill each other for your temporary satisfaction. Is that what you wanna make a present of? You wanna make someone you care about responsible for the deaths of those people? Is that a present or a curse? Who would want that? What kind of a person would want that on their conscience? Thats some present man.
  8. Apr 27, 2007 #7


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    Oh, yes, and the cartels have managed to infiltrate the Japamese bridal market, and push the marketing of multi-stone diamond "anniversary" rings in the US market. I have faceted hundreds of gemstones over the years, and the most beautiful was a matched pair of Tsavorites that I cut for my wife and myself to mount in his-and-her rings. We were quite poor when we married and she never got an engagement ring (though I was not a fan of diamonds even then), but she treasures her Tsavorite. The rough stones are found in Tsavo National Park in Kenya, thus the name. They are deep grassy green garnets and much rarer than emeralds. They are also much tougher than emeralds so they can be worn in rings without as much fear of damage.
  9. Apr 27, 2007 #8


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    I am NOT encouraging people to buy diamonds, but other precious stones. DeBeers pretty has a lock on the world supply of diamond rough, so when they say that they do not buy conflict diamonds, it only means that the murderers have to use a middle-man so deBeers can keep their hands clean.
  10. Apr 29, 2007 #9
    I only own diamonds cut befor 1860, so I feel no guilt. DeBeers controls ruffly 40% of the diamond market. The major mines are co-owned by DeBeers and the country, ie. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania. Its mostly a 50/50 split except for Tanzania, which controls much less. So its not just "shame on DeBeers", its shame on all of these countries.
    Its also a bigger picture, say everyone stops buying diamonds, and the mines close. There is no other work for these miners. Some one would half to come up with a way to give them a means of existence.
    In my eyes it would be much better if the countries involved, took some kind of responsibility for how they treat their own people.
  11. Apr 29, 2007 #10


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    The wife of a client (technical service for paper machines) showed me an old rose-cut diamond in a platinum setting that had belonged to her grandmother and asked if should have it re-cut as her jeweler advised. It was as colorless as water, clear of any defects at 10x, and at least 3 carats in weight, although with that cut, it could have been over 4 carats easily - it's hard to estimate weight when so many stones are cut to the modern "brilliant" standard. I told her to pass the ring down and to warn her heirs never to show that ring to a jeweler again. At that time a brilliant-cut diamond of that color showing no flaws at 10x was selling for $50,000/carat with tremendous premiums for each increment in weight. She probably would have gotten back a flawless H or I stone in a gold setting to disguise the color shift, and the jeweler would have pocketed 6 figures easily.
  12. Apr 30, 2007 #11
    because of the media attention 'blood diamonds' got, there are many ways to shop for diamonds that do not come from conflict regions. the canadian polar bear diamonds for example are extracted and cut in canada and etched with a micro polar bear for authenticity. i also don't think you can even legally get conflict diamonds in most of europe and north america any more

    don't kid yourself though, its not just diamonds. there are zillions of things that come from conflict regions that are directly related to the conflict. if there is cobalt in congo that is worth money, you can bet someone is financially motivated to ignore the human rights of the people there for the sake of cheap, consistent labor.

    there are also lots of cases where we consume things even though we would morally object to the processes required to make (or extract or refine) them. take for example the energy required to give you a hot shower in the morning, it could come from a coal fire power plant that puts toxins into the air that increase the chance of repertory illness to people down wind, in addition to the contribution to global warming. or another example would be the steel mills in china that unload their toxic wastes into rivers that supply drinking water to thousands.

    if you want to be on the safe side, avoid stuff that comes from countries with poor human rights and environmental standards.
  13. May 1, 2007 #12


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    So apparently, there is some UN regulation on it. Is this another UN rule ignored and meaningless, or actually bothered to follow?

    I'm all up for lab-grown diamonds! Just because they weren't found by a slaving African, doesn't make 'em bad! :biggrin: There was a thread in here a while ago about, you can pay to have a company fuse your cremated ashes into a a diamond the size of an pencil eraserhead? That sounded kinda cool :smile: although, I'd want my money to go to my family or help out some people after I died.
  14. May 1, 2007 #13


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    Unfortunately, Mk, it only takes very small parcels from war-torn countries to be shipped to a "certified" source for resale to circumvent this process. The veneer of respectability that such a process conveys is only as good as the strength of the oversight process and the incorruptibility of the players. I have no faith in the honesty of the people in that end of the trade.
  15. May 1, 2007 #14


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    DeBeers is indeed the most prolific racketeering scam ever. Well, maybe except OPEC.

    I just saw a story the other day about scams that large coffee producers in places like Columbia were using extortion to keep local farmers under their thumbs to provide coffee to companies like Starbucks and Folgers at low prices. It is the coffee version of blood diamonds (fair trade coffee). Luckily a lot of farmers got together and formed co-ops to counter the bad guys. That story hit home for me.
  16. May 1, 2007 #15


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    That probably applies to any commodity, particularly those requireing intensive labor, e.g. coffee, cocoa, various nuts or fruits, . . . . in the pooer nations.

    It ends up being a few who control supply in order to artificially bolster demand.
  17. May 1, 2007 #16


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    Don't forget bananas. Our government has toppled other governments and has suppressed democracy in Central America for the benefit of fruit companies. "Banana Republic" may be a popular clothing vendor, but the name originates in the blood and suffering of millions.
  18. May 2, 2007 #17


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    If you're basing your assessment of a civil war on movies, you should at least see two movies. The movie "The Empire in Africa" takes a more favorable view of rebels fighting against a government accused of its own abuses.

    It is true that illegal diamond sales allowed the civil war to continue longer than it otherwise would have. If you're willing to pay any price to avoid war, the ban was definitely a good thing.

    If you support the point of view of Sierra Leone's official government, the ban was also a good thing. It weakens a 'terrorist' fighting force.

    If you support the 'freedom fighters' of Sierra Leone, the ban was a bad thing. It helped to keep an abusive and corrupt government in place.

    I don't know enough about the civil wars in Western Africa to pick a side. Most Americans don't.

    The point is that both options, buying diamonds and boycotting diamonds, is supporting one side or the other. You should probably know both sides of the conflict before picking a side - if you're basing your purchasing decisions on political reasons, anyway.

    In any event, the UN just voted to lift the ban on 'blood diamonds' since the civil war is over, at least temporarily. Which brings up another point: perhaps you should make sure the issue is still relevant before making your diamond buying decisions.

    All of which points out the most important point: movies generally aren't a good source to base your political viewpoints on. They usually reflect the viewpoint of the moviemaker, right or wrong, and only represent a snapshot in time. They can't keep up with events that occur after the movie's release.
  19. May 2, 2007 #18
    You're probably right, but all the same, I don't think I could buy diamonds if they came from conflict zones regardless of whose blood was spilled to get them. There was blood spilled. Thats bad enough.

    I may be wrong, but aren't politics affected by economics? So, even if the UN voted to lift the ban on blood diamonds, that political decision was most probably based on economic considerations of both sides. The Sierra Leone government would want to start some form of trade, and De Beers (and others like them), would want to have one more diamond farm under their control. So, whatever the UN does, is more a token response rather than genuine goodwill or a genuine effort to improve the situation of Sierra Leone.

    Again, you're probably right, but even if the viewpoint is biased, it cant be that far away from reality, can it? My dad tried to do some business there in Congo, but it deteriorated badly because of the political situation. He tells me that the situation was similar on the streets of the major cities. I tend to believe him. He did tell me though, that the country was beautiful.
  20. May 3, 2007 #19
    iv heard that starbucks pays more for their beans in exchange for higher quality, organically grown crops, thus offering the producer a higher wage for the crop. folgers on the other hand insists on paying bare minimum prices for their beans, forcing farmers to use unsustainable farming practices that yield poorer quality crops.

    the cheap, poor quality coffee that is so popular requires the farmers to hire cheap labor and squeeze them for every bean they can get. because of the higher quality coffee required for starbucks to stay in business, it offers coffee farmers a niche market that is less competitive, and thus does not require slave labor

    or at least thats how i understood it
  21. May 3, 2007 #20

    Chi Meson

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    I don't know if it just a Northeast thing, but the "Newman's Own" line of coffee, run by Paul Newman's Daughter, Nell, is a staunch supporter of Fair Trade. Evidednty the group makes inspection trips to make sure they're not getting the wool pulled over their eyes. How can you be sure? Well, I need my coffee, and Folger's is horrible anyway, so I pay the extra bucks for the Newman's and I guess I have to trust them.

    I'd hate to give up coffee.
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