Diamonds and the Ivory Coast

So I recently received the photo below from an acquaintance (not in the diamond business) who knows I write about the diamond industry. He was just visiting the Ivory Coast (a.k.a. Cote d’Ivoire) and said he was offered the diamonds you see here. He took this pic with his cellphone. He wanted to know if he should buy them.


The email brings home just what a big job the Kimberley Process has. If stones are being offered to American tourists, it really is hard to control the flow of illicit stones.


Of course, tourists aren’t the only problem. This guy saw plenty of diamond people in the Ivory Coast. He even spoke to one diamond guy who said he smuggles the stones in his belt, and then sells them at a huge profit.


I am sure everyone who reads this blog knows all this, but just to review: Diamonds from the Ivory Coast are subject to U.N. sanctions, therefore it’s illegal to import them into the U.S., based on the Clean Diamond Trade Act (PDF).   Remember, diamond busts are on the increase. If you are caught, you could go to jail, and deserve to. I don’t think authorities will look very kindly to a guy caught with a bunch of illegal diamonds in his belt.


And you are endangering more than just your own freedom. You are jeopardizing people’s lives, plus the future of the industry you work in.


Here by the way, is an article that talks about how diamonds are mined in the rebel-held areas of Ivory Coast. It seems very similar to way they were mined during the war in Sierra Leone – meaning, they were mined by virtual slaves. I really don’t understand the mind-set of someone who would knowingly buy something mined by a slave.


I don’t like to preach, but hearing this stuff, nine years after this issue first came to light, is disturbing.

By the way, for you gemologically savvy out there, what is your opinion of the pictured rocks?

JCK News Director