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Bloody Jewelry Market

"Do you know that a diamond which you buy was paid by a human life?" This was written on the poster representing the 4-years child with amputated hands. The massive campaign against trade in contraband diamonds has been beginning from such lethal evident propaganda. The human rights organization Global Witness received the grant from the government of the Great Britain for the development of the effective system of tracking of the diamonds arriving in the market from Angola.

Then Global Witness has started the unprecedented action against contraband which has already led to the revolutionary changes in industry. In Antwerp - the world's main trade center of diamonds - the World Diamond Congress under pressure of the public has started the development of an international certification and monitoring system to control the import/export of rough diamonds. This system should put a barrier to the market for deliveries of contraband rough diamonds from zones of military conflicts. De Beers, established in 1888, is the world's leading diamond company with unrivalled expertise in the exploration, mining and marketing of diamonds. De Beers and its joint venture partners operate in more than 20 countries across five continents employing. Earlier, De Beers Group - the world's famous monopoly that had defined shaky well-being of many African economics and also well-being of diamond business in Europe, Asia and America for a long time - has reacted to attack of the public.

For more than seventy years, Southern African Group De Beers that has controlled deliveries, selling and also diamond's pricing, had resolved to the radical reforming. The Chairman of the De Beers Group Nicky Oppenheimer has arrived to London to explain new reforms to its 125 joint venture partners. De Beers hosted a members meeting and international conference in London. Delegates representing the governments of producing nations, non-governmental organizations, and the trade and general press were also in attendance. Laws of the free market had come to change gentlemen's agreements. This is contracts renewed time in two years by principle "money forward".

Besides De Beers Group also would like to undertake functions of "policeman" in the market - on the rights of former monopoly it is going to control the accompanying documentation on the diamonds arrived to Antwerp. For many African countries, which in 30th years had become free of colonialism, diamond fields are the main thing, if not the only thing, a source of incomes. Not casually conflicts in Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo, Liberia had inflamed because of the control over diamond mines. The analysis of Antwerp's transactions had helped to complete the picture of penetration "bloody diamonds" in market. The scale of contraband amazes imagination. For example, the official information - Liberia makes in one year 100 - 150 thousand carats.

However, in the Belgian market only for five years (1994-1998) had registered 31 million carats of diamonds of Liberian origin (app. 6 million carats every year!). The official mining of diamonds in Sierra Leone in 1998 had made 8,5 thousand carats, and in Antwerp in the same year had registered 770 thousand carats of Sierra Leone's diamonds.

In Sierra Leone the official government doesn't control mines of a southeast of the country - all of them maintain by insurgents from Revolutionary incorporated front which "had become famous" for terrorize local residents with chopping off them a brush of hands. How is it possible to stop the contraband? Richard Hoobrooke, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, having accused a peace-making contingent in Sierra Leone (about 3 thousand people) in an inefficiency, had demanded to define what equipment is necessary for blue helmets to beat off diamond mines at Revolutionary incorporated front. However, the other way of struggle - the creation of effective system of certification of diamonds - results only in funny things. What could we do with the jewelry made of 10-20 diamonds certified by professional experts? For example, the diamond necklace will require up to 30 certificates, so the necklace's price will rise greatly. Besides in the world no more than five experts are able to define absolutely precisely by the diamond a place of its mining. Four of these experts work at De Beers.

At present days the license for trade in diamonds in Antwerp is given out by the Belgian Diamond High Council (HRD), - this is some kind of the trading guild that closely connected with De Beers. Its representatives refuse contraband's diamonds - they said that these diamonds had acted in the Belgian market from a small number of private dealers. So why criticize De Beers? The cause is the diamonds pricing. In fact, De Beers instantly bought up diamonds of unknown origin to not admit a collapse of the market.

Thus, De Beers had "choked" because of "swallowing" of unknown origin diamonds when the world community had started talking about ethical aspects of business. But the cause is the not only in ethical aspects. The diamond market is a colossus on clay legs. So, it is enough an easy whiff of a wind to stagger them: only 3 % of demand reduction means losses in 1,6 billion dollars. Nowadays many experts expect that outsiders desire of changing trade structure of the market to own advantage stands behind attacks to De Beers.

The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs had accused Canada of attempts to disorganize the Belgian diamond industry several months ago. The matter is that Ottawa is going to mine diamond fields of its Northwest territory which surpass African resources and "are not blood diamonds". De Beers had announced that it is going to lower the huge diamond resources (up to 5 billion dollars), and it had promised to achieve a full transparency of diamond business.

Nowadays a large-scale advertising campaign is planned to support interest in diamonds. Thus, it is created the impression that the elected strategy is providing transition from the control over the market of rough diamonds to domination in the market of cut diamonds. However, many experts are sure that De Beers is cunning. The world's famous monopolies (De Beers Group controls 60% of the world market of rough diamonds) don't die suddenly. The company just wants to wash away the accusations that its business had involved in African blood.

Alexander Maletin is a writer and online publisher. Visit his site at Buy Jewelry

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