According to the World Diamond Council, an estimated US$13 billion worth of rough diamonds are produced per year, 65% of which come from Africa, and this value continues to grow particularly around Valentine’s Day when diamonds are in peak demand. While buying jewelry for your loved one is meant to be an expression of your love, much of these precious minerals may be mined under abusive conditions for workers and may even finance conflict.
The 2010 U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor cites seven countries where child labor continues to occur in diamond production, all of which are located in Africa, with a particular concentration on Sierra Leone and Angola. In these regions, where children comprise nearly 30 percent of the workforce, workers’ rights are often not respected and children may be forced to toil under hazardous conditions in the informal “artisanal” mining sector. It has also been alleged that the mining industry in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo fuels conflict as armed groups feud over control of strategic mineral zones and illicit trade routes.
As one of the largest jewelry corporations in the world, Signet Diamonds, whose brands include Kay and Jared Diamonds, has a unique opportunity to pave the way for truly ethical diamond sourcing. Despite the pervasiveness of these labor and human rights violations, Signet Diamonds has few policies in place to ensure its diamonds are not mined by forced or child labor, and little information in general about where its minerals are sourced.
It’s time to hold Signet Diamonds accountable and ask that it take stronger action to stop forced child labor and worker exploitation in the diamond industry.