These days you hear the term “conflict-free” a lot when it comes time to buy diamonds online. The opposite of this is “blood diamond”, which gives a much clearer idea of the oft-misunderstood phrase. When you hear “conflict”, you generally think of stones that get mined under some seriously adverse conditions, including being attained as spoils of war. The sad truth though is that conflict diamonds are not a result of the war in many African countries, but one of the causes.
Diamonds almost always rank near the top among the few sure-fire investments you can grab in the market. Anyone with access to a steady supply of diamonds is bound to fixate on the value that brings. The problem is that many war-torn countries in the world have people who use this as a means of instigating border disputes and civil wars. As a consumer buying a diamond online or from a physical store, you would undoubtedly want one that has nothing to do with a conflict of one of those kinds.
In Africa, the majority of conflicts which occurred in the past 30 years were funded partially or even fully by selling illegal diamonds. Liberia, Angola, and DR of Congo are the main countries that used to bring such stones into the global market, up until 1998 when the UN stepped in and banned international trading of diamonds which were not deemed conflict-free.
UN Resolution 1173 investigated and found that about a fourth of the diamonds originating in Africa were sold to fund wars. The official figure is currently at 1%, although there are organizations which place this as high as 10%. While there seems to have been a lot of improvement since 1998, there still remains a sizeable portion of diamond which are used to fuel conflict through their sale. These stones are often sold in the rough, and then cut and polished. After the latter has happened, it is nearly impossible to track the stone back to its provenance.
After the Kimberley Process was introduced with an eye on establishing solely conflict-free diamond trade around the world, nations have had to sign an agreement, which essentially says they cannot use proceeds from diamond sales to fund disputes within their borders. If any country fails to follow through on this, it gets its right to trade in the global diamond markets revoked.