Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

A Girl’s Best Friend

The commercials on tv are filled with the message: “Valentine’s Day is coming up! Men be warned. You’ll be expected to give her a thoughtful gift, a gift that speaks to the kind of woman you think she is, a gift that shows how much you value her. And since you’re likely to forget up until the very last minute, there’s only one gift that will do on such short notice. Bust out that credit card, good sir. You’re buying your lady some diamonds!”

Not my photo.

Not my photo.

There’s a host of things wrong with the message those ads put out. But I have a couple very particular problems with Valentine’s Day: diamonds and chocolate. And while I like shiney things and chocolatey goodness as much as the next girl, I have to ask, “At what cost?”

With so many commercials advertizing diamonds and jewelry right now, I keep asking myself why so few jewellers advertize their stones as conflict-free. On a holiday that is to celebrate love, it breaks my heart to think that the gifts given could be causing pain to others around the world. Those diamonds are costing the lives of men, women, and children uprooted from their homes and forced into hard labor. Largely this is to fund the wars in particular African countries.

600full-blood-diamond-poster

Not my photo.

If you’ve seen the film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ve been given a glimpse into the world of conflict diamond mining. The film is disturbing, heart-rending, and all too real. It’s only a taste of the truth and tells the stories of a few people who were wrapped up in the Sierra Leone diamond mines, while there are thousands of others still enslaved.

Over the past few years the U.S. has started to enact some legislation on the purchase of diamonds from conflict regions but the rabbit hole goes deep and those countries known for their blood diamonds are now trafficking them through to countries that haven’t been blacklisted so they can sell to the U.S. To really confirm if a diamond is traffick-free, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that has created a program for full tracking of diamonds to their origin and has called for increased government transparency with diamond records. The KPCS was started up largely at the behest of African countries that are known to have issues with conflict-diamonds. The work has been started, but we can play a part in this too.

blood-diamond-copy

Not my photo

Right now it’s up to us as buyers in a country that is the largest consumer of diamonds. Our dollars show our priorities and there are plenty of jewellers that can certify their diamonds as conflict-free. It takes asking some pointed questions, maybe a little online research, but it is worth supporting justice. The practice of using blood diamonds to fund wars, of using children to work in mines, and ripping families apart to gain slaves can be hampered by our choices. Everything can be assigned value, every precious stone, every carat of gold. But human life is priceless.

Blood diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend.

I wrote this post about chocolate before Halloween so I won’t go into it here, but please, please, check it out to learn more about the need for buying fair trade chocolate.

Massive changes in our world begin with little actions, small choices – and we all have a part to play.

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11 comments on “A Girl’s Best Friend

  1. ethelthedean
    February 7, 2013

    Excellent and timely post. I loathe many things to do with Valentines Day and how it is advertised, especially the hard marketed “jewellery for love” campaign. It’s terrible.

    And you’re completely correct. Not enough companies are willing to go blood-free because it’s much easier to just toe the status quo then it is to bring about much needed change. After all, who really wants to toy with the bottom line?

    Thank you for drawing light to this horror and the excellent work done by the KPCS. The more people who know, the more it will change! x

  2. whatimeant2say
    February 7, 2013

    I agree with Ethel. Valentine’s Day is pretty much a bad deal all around. You are right, though, that more people need to be educated about blood diamonds.

  3. Jessica
    February 7, 2013

    Thanks for the information, Audrey! I’ve never owned a diamond or seen “Blood Diamond,” but I was aware about the conflict. What I did learn from your post is how to go about purchasing a non-conflict stone, in case I’m ever in the market for one. It does start with one small step!

  4. Danny Breslin
    February 8, 2013

    I never celebrate valentines day – why? Because it’s our wedding anniversary and I’m not forking out for two cards!
    I very much doubt that the ‘powers that be’ care that much about the fate of the poor in these countries seeing as they make sure that there is always an affordable gun for them to carry. Banning conflict diamonds makes sure the market isn’t flooded so the price is kept artificially high, same reason that they stockpile diamonds.
    Anyway, she doesn’t need a diamond – she married one!!!! ; )

  5. Tori Nelson
    February 8, 2013

    I don’t really understand the appeal of the standard chocolate, flowers, bling gifts for Valentine’s Day. I’m happy with a funny card!

  6. storiesbywilliams
    February 8, 2013

    Ah, boy! You had to go and ruin chocolate and diamonds in the same breath, didn’t ya? I remember a friend who was a poli-sci major who said much the same thing a few Valentines ago. What a downer! Not that I care about diamonds much, they cost too much and could pay for a life changing trip! And chocolate is good, but I won’t invest in unfair trade to eat it. Wait… was I agreeing or giving you a hard time? Can’t remember. Good post!

    • Audrey
      February 13, 2013

      I know… I’m such a downer, right?! I’m right with you, skip the jewels and let’s go explore some place new and make memories! Thank you kindly, for the hard time and the agreeing. 🙂

      • storiesbywilliams
        February 13, 2013

        Ah, I kid because I care! It was true though, this other friend did say all this on Valentines, prompting me to say on the following year “Happy Valentines. I do not want to talk about blood diamonds, the cocoa trade, or Hallmark holidays, thank you.” Oh, she got the message, loud and clear! Good times 😉

      • Audrey
        February 13, 2013

        Too funny! I’ve been trying not to get all ranty about this holiday. There are some aspects of it that I really love. But all these commercials and the consumerism of the thing kind of bum me out. But onward to celebration! 🙂 Are you doing anything special tomorrow for your lady?

      • storiesbywilliams
        February 13, 2013

        Aside from trying to get some advance tickets to Die Hard 5? Not sure… A person card most like. I like to do calligraphy on hand made paper since we got a bundle. You? Know of any special plans your man’s got planned?

      • Audrey
        February 13, 2013

        Oh, I’d be so so jealous if you guys see Die Hard! I’m not willing to brave the crowds but hopefully in a few weeks we can catch it. Calligraphy? That’s awesome! And something of a lost art these days – sounds very romantic and thoughtful. I’m going to cook up some bacon-wrapped scallops, mushroom risotto, irish cream mousse, and pop a bottle of champagne with the Mr. 🙂 Nice and chill night in for us!

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