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Conflict free diamond rings

The Scoop on Conflict-Free Diamonds

Though outcry about "blood diamonds" has led jewelers to adopt higher standards, it's still smart to do your homework.

Photo: Mary Kate McKenna Photography

How can you be sure your stone is conflict-free? Learn the facts and ask the right questions.

Know Your Stones

In 2002, the UN adopted a system to end the practice of diamond trading for dubious means. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme outlines the regulations and requirements countries must follow to make sure a diamond is mined and shipped in a humane, legitimate way. Diamonds that meet these regulations are shipped with a Kimberley Process certificate. When you buy a diamond, the jeweler should be able to provide this certificate -- if they can't, you should be wary of the stone's origin.

Check for Certification

Any well-established, reputable jeweler should be able to tell you about a diamond's history and guarantee that it's conflict-free. How do you know a jeweler is telling the truth? Ask to see the diamond's System of Warranties statement, and know what these certificates look like before you shop -- you can see examples at DiamondFacts.org.

Shop Smart

You can also opt to shop at a retailer like Brilliant Earth, which specializes in conflict-free jewelry (their diamonds come from Canada, and 5 percent of their profits are donated to a fund to benefit local African communities harmed by the diamond industry). And a store you've certainly heard about -- Tiffany & Co. -- deals exclusively with suppliers who use environmentally sound, conflict-free mining.

Look Beyond Canada

Many buyers believe conflict-free must mean the stones are Canadian. Although Canada has a solid reputation for diamonds that are mined in an environmentally conscious and conflict-free way, you shouldn't consider stones from Canada the only diamonds that are conflict-free. Other producers are Russia, Australia, and yes, many African countries. The important thing is that the diamond has documentation all the way from the mine to the jeweler. Currently, the Ivory Coast is one country the UN cites in which diamonds are being mined and smuggled by rebels. You can find more information about countries participating in the Kimberley Process at here.

Don't Expect to Pay More

There are many different factors that can make a diamond pricier, but being conflict-free certified should not be one of them. If you work with a jeweler you trust and research before you buy (our list of useful links is a good start) you can know you've done your part in being a responsible diamond shopper.

-- Miles Stiverson

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