There are many social and environmental impacts of extracting diamonds and furthermore there are impacts at each stage of the diamond commodity chain. Diamonds have a strong cultural and social meaning. They are a sign of wealth and long lasting love. The larger the diamond, the higher the social status of the owner. It can also be seen as a sign of greater love or commitment between couples.
While diamonds are admired and loved by many there are a few bad social impacts such as poor working conditions, child labor, environmental impacts. While there are 6 steps in the diamond pipeline, the majority of these social and environmental impacts come during the mining of the diamonds, the most controversial step.
Diamond exploration has little effect on the environment but many companies have entered the diamond extraction industry. From equipment production to the testing of the rock itself, many people are needed to successfully explore for diamonds. At this stage in the pipeline many people are employed and this is a good thing for society.
The mining stage has the most negative impacts on society. The working conditions in most of the countries diamonds are mined in are terrible. Africa is known for having the worst working conditions as well as wages as low as $1/day for miners. Children are commonly forced into labor in Africa as well. These children experience physical and sexual abuse while being forced to produce diamonds. There is also many diseases spread among the laborers due to poor sanitation and living conditions. Diamond mining also has many detrimental impacts on the environment including soil erosion, deforestation, and ecosystem destruction.
A major political effect of the diamond commodity chain, specifically at the mining level is blood diamonds. These are diamonds that are produced in war zones to finance civil wars. It is impossible to track the origin of diamonds, thus in 2003 the Kimberly Process was created. This process is carried out by the manufactures and it is a way to ensure the diamonds are not blood diamonds. Each diamond is given a certificate to prove its origin. Since its implementation the world’s diamond supply is certified as 99% conflict free.
Though mining has many negative impacts on society, the process has been highly regulated as of late and diamonds do provide many benefits to the countries in which diamonds are found and mined. The biggest impact diamonds have on these countries is a financial one. Diamonds, specifically in the African nations, make up a huge part of their respective GDPs.
The subsequent steps, sorting, cutting and polishing, jewelry manufacturing, and retailing all have very similar impacts on society and are mainly very beneficial. The above steps in the pipeline are very global and bring wealth and jobs all over the world.
During the sorting process, diamonds are given a Kimberly Process Certificate, as mentioned above. This certificate ensures that the diamonds came from countries employing fair labor conditions as well as came from conflict free zones. This political and humanitarian initiative has helped clean up the controversial industry and has turned a once corrupted industry into a respectable one.
At the cutting and polishing stage many large cities are involved. This step has helped jump start economies such as that of Thailand as infrastructure was developed to handle the care and cutting of these precious gems. More and more countries have become involved in the earlier steps of diamond jewelry production than ever before. This step has contributed a lot of money to up and coming countries GDPs.
The further you move down the pipeline the more companies there are involved and the more jobs there are available. By the time you get to the manufacturing and retailing step, thousands of jobs are available creating and selling diamond jewelry all over the world. Companies such as Tiffany and Company employ thousands of diamond experts around the world to sell their jewelry. This creation of jobs at the manufacturing and retailing stages and subsequent rise in GDP for each country with retailers is extremely beneficial to their economy.
Diamonds while they used to bring so much hardship and destruction to extract and deliver to the consumer, now come from safe locations. The diamond trade now has so many positive effects on a global scale while before it was drenched in corruption and pain. The world has come together to make the harvesting of diamonds a prosperous industry for each and every country involved in any step of the pipeline.