When a Summer of 2021 meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) turned contentious, I found hope.
This is not an attempt to “find a silver lining” in a terrible situation. I was nowhere near this meeting, have no relationships to this group and only needle them online on occasion. But this time, for once, I saw more and more people gathering online to acknowledge what was happening in front of our eyes. And that what is happening is a direct resistance to accountability or oversight.
The KP resists oversight at every turn and in the process, they shoot themselves and the diamond industry in the foot. The Kimberley Process Civil Society, an organization created to provide accountability to the KP, could not sway KP members to hold themselves accountable. Preventing observers to an opaque process like the KP will not create trust and it turns the entire process into the punchline to a dark joke. In short, every time the KP refuses accountability, a lab-grown diamond gets its wings.
You might think that I would feel frustrated or ready to throw in the towel, but no. I know that I am not alone in this anymore. More than ever, jewelers, activists, consumers, and miners around the world recognize this as a broken system. And we are finding new ways to work together outside of it. Designers are embracing mine-to-market gemstones for their beauty and their transparency. Consumers are more willing than ever to seek out the most ethical jewelry they can find. Organizations and activists are working with mining communities to find new ways to work together. This all gives me hope for a future jewelry industry with fairness built right in.
The passion is there, the desire for more ethical diamonds is there, but the path to acquiring them is full of obstacles. Clearing the path to a more ethical system requires transparency and political will. If they can’t do it, then we will.
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