Turns Out Diamonds Aren't Really Your Best Friend After All

A global advocacy group called Global Witness has recused itself from a coalition that aims to eliminate the flow of blood diamonds into the global marketplace, saying the safeguards that have been put in place aren't preventing tainted conflict gems from being bought by consumers. I guess diamonds are maybe more like a girl's best frenemy. Especially if the girl is from Africa.

The New York Times reports that Global Witness helped establish the Kimberley Process in 2003 in response to diamond trade-fueled wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. In theory, the process was supposed to put the kibosh on jewelers getting their hands on diamonds purchased from conflict zones and acquired by workers who operate under inhumane conditions.

The Kimberley Process isn't a "process" as much as a group of countries and organizations who agreed to cooperate in regulating the trade in rough diamonds. A country found to be ignoring the rules of the group can be barred from trading with any other member of the group, which includes diamond producers like Zimbabwe and net diamond consumers like the United States. The group also includes groups like Global Witness, who participate as observers to make sure that everyone's nose stays clean.

Critics of the process countries are responsible for administering their own participation in the trade, and it's not very difficult for a country to fudge the origin of a rough diamond. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has 30% of the world's diamond reserves, currently holds chairmanship of the council.

Global Witness officials say they've long been wary of the Kimberly Process's implementation, but that a recent incident pushed them over the edge. Last month, the body decided to allow diamonds to be exported from the Marange fields, a region in Zimbabwe known for human rights abuses and military overreach.

Now, officials from Global Witness are saying that the entire setup was a sham designed to protect the financial interests of the diamond industry all along.

Good thing those "He went to Jared!" commercials don't start with shots of Jared paying off sub-Saharan warlords. It would take away some of the holiday magic.

Global Witness Quits Group On 'Blood Diamonds' [NYT]