Carats, Colour, Clarity, Cut and… Conflict

Most people consider the four Cs when looking for a diamond, but if we really want to be ethical consumers then there are five.

Carat – A measure of the diamond’s weight, based on an ancient system where gems were measured according to the weight of a carob seed. One carat is now considered one fifth of a gram. It can also be divided into 100 ‘points.’ A half carat diamond is the same as a 50 point or a 0.50 carat diamond.

Colour – Did you know that diamonds come in many different colours? And although most people opt for the ‘colourless’ or ‘yellow’ diamond they are sometimes: cognac, champagne, yellow, white, black, blue, green, pink and even red. The world’s largest diamond ever found, was actually green – The Dresden Green.

Clarity –  This is about the ‘inclusions’ in a diamond. The mineral, fractures and ‘birthmarks’ that make each diamond unique. The fewer inclusions – the greater the clarity.

Cut – This is essentially the process, which turns a ‘rough’ diamond in its natural mined state, into the well-aligned diamonds we are used to seeing in pieces of jewellery.

Conflict – the fifth C
How many people stop to think about whether the sale of the diamond they are buying has been exchanged for weapons or sold to make money for rebel fighters? Or perhaps the diamond comes at the cost of environmental degradation or workers rights.

The 2003 Kimberley process and certification attempts to address this issue, but unless you know your supply chain from start to finish, how can you be sure? As recently as 2011, the BBC discovered that there were torture camps for diamond miners in Zimbabwe.

The diamonds I use come from Origin Australia and the Argyle diamond mine, I’m very happy to know that it is one of the most responsible gem mines in the world today, thanks to Argyle Diamond’s environmental management system and its accountability to the Australian Government.

So far there is no such thing as a Fair Trade Diamond, but with the recent launch of Fairtrade Gold in Australia I’m hoping that one day Zoe Pook Jewellery will be able to offer Fair Trade Diamonds as well as Gold. Watch this space!