Diamonds are one of the most valuable substances on earth; a single gemstone can be worth as much as $8,000. They are also versatile, used in industry to cut metal and stone, as well as their value as jewelry. In addition, Mark van Bockstael of the Diamond High Council in Antwerp, says that “they are a form of currency” (“Diamonds”). Diamonds can be even better than money, especially if we’re looking for a status symbol. Diamonds might also be the “ultimate expression of love” (“From Mine”). But do people know the dark side of the diamond industry, with forced child labor and harsh conditions? Beautiful --- ugly.
Diamonds have a long standing history on the planet earth. Diamonds were formed thousands of years ago, they are one of natures oldest minerals. Diamonds are “formed deep beneath the earth - 100-200 miles below the surface” (“From Mine”). The formation of diamonds in nature is very complex and takes exact environmental and physical conditions. Diamond Stud Source states that “diamonds are made up of pure carbon, crystalized by intense heat and pressure in the earth’s interior and forced to the surface by volcanic eruption” (“From Mine”). When all these factors come into play, a diamond is formed and encrusted into the earths surface until mined out by mankind. Diamonds are the hardest material on earth. They can only be polished and/or scratched by another diamond. When diamonds were discovered, they were used for many different things. An estimated 3,000 years ago, the people in the country of India used diamonds for their ability to refract light. They used the diamonds as a talisman to “ward off evil” or as a device of protection (“History”). In the Dark Ages, diamonds were used as a curing aid. One anecdote, written during the Dark Ages by St Hildegarde, 'relates how a diamond held in the hand while making the sign of a cross would heal wounds and cure illnesses' (“History”). Then during the Middle Ages, public interest began to rise and the value of diamonds started to increase. As their value spiked, mine owners began to worry about their workers trying to smuggle the diamonds. Mine owners began to circulate myths that diamonds were poisonous (“History”). This myth apparently had little effect because the public’s interest in diamonds did not fade over the years, and neither did their value. In today’s society, diamonds are sold as luxurious additions to pieces of jewelry. This makes the diamond industry very lucrative, especially in the United States where diamonds have become a form of a status symbol. They are also used in industrial settings as cutting tools. Their versatility and beauty continue to make diamonds one of the most sought after minerals.
Due to the intense natural process it takes to form a diamonds, they are sparsely found throughout the world. These incredible minerals can be found in seven areas: Angola, Australia, Botswana, Namibia, Russia, South Africa and Zaire. Secondary to their rarity and location, mining these diamonds can be a harsh and abusive career. The process of harvesting a diamond doesn’t stop at the mining. Preparing a diamond to be sold can be quite a lengthy task. Diamond Stud Source explains “once the diamonds have been mined and processed, they are classified and valued according to their size, shape, quality and color” (“From Mine”). The price of diamonds is reflective of the intense labor it takes to mine and refine them. A high demand and low supply also drives up the price of a diamond. Since a diamond has such great value, mine owner are greedy and eager to mine as many diamonds as possible to reap a financial benefit.
Unfortunately, diamonds are not as glamorous as they look. Behind each diamond is a history of intense and cure labor conditions in a mine. So who is doing this intense mining and what is all this talk about cruel labor conditions? One might be fairly surprised with the answer considering mining is such a grueling task....
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