Friday, October 2, 2009

The Scandalous Cost of Diamonds

Diamonds, the hardest natural material known to man, have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons in ancient India 3000 or more years ago. Their usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history.

Selling diamonds on a massive worldwide scale has often been described as the most successful marketing campaign of the century. De Beers and the De Beers Family of Companies (The Oppenheimer family cartel), used their dominant position to manipulate the international diamond market. They have been highly successful in increasing consumer demand for diamonds, while at the same time creating the impression that diamonds are rare, and therefore precious. One of the most effective marketing strategies has been the marketing of diamonds as a symbol of love and commitment, --- a girls best friend!

There are many other beautiful gems on earth that also sparkle and glitter once polished, but diamonds are appreciated because they are expensive. After all, nobody buying a diamond engagement ring would want to be regarded as a cheapskate.

The true facts are, --- diamonds are crystals of carbon and they can be found in great quantities all over the world. They are produced by heat and pressure some 1,200 miles below ground and they have been brought to the surface by volcanoes to be mined, most famously in Africa. But they are found in extinct volcanoes throughout Asia, America, Russia and Australia, and along riverbeds and shorelines are the ‘alluvial diamonds’, as they are called. Everywhere there is carbon there are diamonds. This makes one wonder how it came about that the diamond industry is controlled by a mere handful of influential business?

The Cullinan Diamond mine – South Africa

The historic Cullinan diamond mine near Pretoria has long been renowned for the quality of its diamonds, the most famous of which was the massive Cullinan diamond, the largest rough diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g). Two polished gems from the stone are named Cullinan I or the First Star of Africa, and Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa. Both gems are in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

In November 2007, De Beers sold Cullinan diamond mine to Petra Diamonds Cullinan Consortium (PDCC) for R1bn in cash. PDCC, which operates in South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in Londen (share code ‘PDL’). Petra Diamonds has become one of the world's largest diamond groups on the basis of gross resource. As of 2008, Petra owns 6 out of 24 of the world's most productive mines.

Who owns Petra Diamonds?

Petra Diamonds has an initial 37% interest, with an option to increase ownership to 60%. The company’s headquarters is in Jersey, a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France.

The other members are:

  • Al Rajhi Holdings W.L.L. who also hold a 37% initial interest, are one of many companies who represent the business interests of Sheikh Abdulrahman Saleh Al Rajhi and his immediate family in Saudi Arabia.
  • The BEE partner - Thembinkosi Mining Investments, who own a 14% interest, brings together a significant pool of empowerment players, whose shareholders include three empowerment companies within Thembinkosi, namely Sedibeng Mining, Umnotho weSizwe and women’s empowerment organisation Namoise Mining.
  • The Petra Diamond Employee Trust owns a 12% interest.

In January 2009, CEO Johan Dippenaar announced that Petra Diamonds intends exercising its options to acquire 60% of the celebrated Cullinan diamond mine and is tweaking the plant to recover larger stones. Source

Well it seems they have achieved their goals……

In May 2009 a seven-carat blue diamond discovered at PDCC’s Cullinan diamond mine sold in Geneva for a record price of nearly U.S. $9.5 million. This set a new record price per carat for any gemstone sold at auction and the highest price for a fancy vivid blue diamond sold at auction. Source

The Cullinan mine in South Africa has again hit the headlines in September 2009 with the recovery of a massive 507.55 carat white diamond.

Spectacular 507 carat white diamond recovered at historic Cullinan mine

Petra Diamonds Limited ("Petra" or "the Company"), the international diamond mining group, announces the recovery of an important 507.55 carat white diamond at the Cullinan mine in South Africa.

This spectacular gemstone was recovered on Thursday 24 September and is currently with experts for analysis. Initial examinations indicate that it is of exceptional colour and clarity, and most likely to be a Type II diamond. Further details, including colour grading and clarity, will be released once the diamond has undergone appropriate analysis.

The diamond was recovered alongside three other special white stones of similar colour and clarity in the same production run: another very large stone of 168.00 carats and two other stones of 58.50 and 53.30 carats.

At 507 carats (just over 100 grams) the diamond, which has yet to be named, is considered to be amongst the top 20 largest high quality rough diamonds ever found worldwide and ranks alongside other illustrious diamonds recovered at the celebrated Cullinan mine. Cullinan has a special place in the history of diamonds as the source of the world’s largest gem diamond ever recovered, the ‘Cullinan’, at 3,106 carats rough. It has also produced a further two of the world’s largest diamonds, the Golden Jubilee at 755 carats rough and the Centenary at 599 carats rough, and many other famous gems including the Taylor-Burton (69 carats polished).

Johan Dippenaar, Petra’s Chief Executive Officer, commented on the find, "The Cullinan mine has again given the world a spectacularly beautiful and important diamond. Initial indications are that it is of exceptional colour and clarity, which suggest extraordinary potential for its polished yield. We now eagerly await the findings of the expert analysis."

Photos of the diamond can be viewed in the photo gallery on the website of Petra Diamonds or at the following dedicated media website:

For an excellent online article by Roy Davies titled, Dangerous Diamonds - Scandals Behind the Sparkle of the World's Most Desirable Gems, follow this link:

The following extracts are from Roy Davies’s article:

The Diamond Wars in Africa


Diamond smuggling took a more sinister turn in the 1970s. In 1975 the Portuguese government gave up its attempt to hang on by force to its colonies in Africa, but independence did not bring peace. In Angola a civil war developed between the MPLA, supported by Cuba, and UNITA, supported by South Africa. Both sides were financed by mineral wealth. The MPLA controlled Angola's off-shore oil fields while most of the diamond producing areas were under the control of UNITA. With the ending of the Cold War and apartheid, pressure on the warring factions to end the fighting increased and a peace deal was agreed in 1994. Among the legacies of the conflict, in which half a million people died, are at least 10 million landmines (some estimates put the figure twice as high), or one for every man, woman and child in the country. The visit to Angola of Princess Diana in 1997 helped to attract widespread international support for the Ottawa Treaty prohibiting the use of antipersonnel mines, despite the opposition of the American government. However Angolans will be suffering from landmines for many years to come.

By 1998 the peace agreement had collapsed and consequently the United Nations placed an embargo on UNITA's diamond trade which it estimated had been worth up to $4 billion in the previous six years (Hawthorne, 2000). In the year the diamond embargo was imposed Angolan government forces were also involved in fighting outside their country when they intervened in the Congolese civil war. By 2000 it was apparent that the effect of the embargo was limited and in March that year the United Nations released a report accusing the presidents of Burkina Faso and Togo of supplying UNITA with arms and fuel in exchange for diamonds. However in February 2002 Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, was killed by the ruling MPLA's army, giving rise to hopes that were subsequently realised, that the long conflict would finally be brought to an end.

The Congo (Zaire)

Not long after gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, the mineral-rich province of Katanga attempted to secede from the rest of the country. That rebellion was eventually crushed but not until after the prime minister Patrice Lumumba, had been killed by troops loyal to the army chief Joseph Mobutu who seized power, allegedly with Belgian and US encouragement. Mobotu, who renamed the country Zaire, proved spectacularly corrupt but because of his pro-western policies he was supported by the US until after the end of the Cold War. In 1997 Rwanda invaded the eastern part of Zaire in order to crush Hutu militias who had been using it as a base. Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, took advantage of the Rwandan invasion to capture the capital Kinshasha and install Laurent-Desire Kabila as president of the country which they renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unfortunately a rift soon opened between Kabila and some of his former allies and in 1998 the country was plunged into a civil war in which the anti-Kabila rebels, supported by Rwandan and Ugandan troops, were prevented from capturing Kinshasha by the intervention of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe which took Kabila's side. Their intervention proved expensive but has been partly financed by Congolese gold and diamonds. A peace agreement signed in July 1999 by the governments of the six countries involved failed to put a complete end to the war in which, according to some estimates, over 2 million people died, many as a result of hunger and disease. In January 2001 Laurent Kabila was assassinated by one of his body guards and succeeded by his son Joseph Kabila as president.

Experts from the United Nations have stated that the conflict has been deliberately prolonged by factions wanting to plunder gold, diamonds and other resources. Among those implicated, if allegations made by an American diamond dealer in March 2002 are to be believed, are Zimbabwean generals, government ministers and close relatives of president Robert Mugabe. All of those, according to John Marsischky, the boss of Flashes of Color, are involved in offering for sale, gems looted by government forces during the Congolese civil war. His company had attempted to set up a diamond cutting operation in the Congo the previous year, but were unsuccessful owing to the opposition of those with a vested interest in the existing situation.

In October 2002 a United Nations panel of experts issued a report on the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources (report no. S/2002/1146). A few weeks later President Joseph Kabila sacked the top managers from the Congo's state diamond company but denied that the action had anything to do with the report. Some of the companies criticised in the report have also responded vigorously, most notably Oryx Natural Resources who were hoping to be exonerated in a later report by the UN. However in October 2003 the UN described the situation as "unresolved".

The Congo is not only a diamond producer but a channel by which diamonds from other countries reach the world markets. UN inspectors concluded in July 2004 that the Republic of Congo was exporting diamonds at a rate "approximately 100 times greater than its estimated production" and therefore most of these had been smuggled into the country illegally. These findings led to the Republic of the Congo being suspended from the Kimberley Process, thus barring its gems from legitimate markets.

Sierra Leone

Lebanese traders began to settle in Sierra Leone at the beginning of the 20th century and were prominent among the people who acquired mining and buying licences when the colonial government introduced a new licensing system in 1956. As a result of this the Lebanese civil war which started in the late 1970s had an impact on Sierra Leone as various Lebanese militia sought financial assistance from their diamond trading compatriots in that country. One of the best known militia leaders, Nabih Berri, had been born in Sierra Leone. After a failed coup in 1987 the leading Lebanese businessman in Sierra Leone went into exile, creating an opening for Israeli businessmen who were reputed to have close connections not only to the Antwerp diamond trade but also with organised crime in the United States and Russia.

After civil war broke out in 1991 smuggling of diamonds across the border into Liberia to pay for arms increased. Drug traffickers were also attracted to Liberia since they were able to launder money by purchasing diamonds which could easily be sold abroad. Despite the savagery of the conflict, with mutilation of civilians including women and children, it has been said that the main objective of the various rebel factions was not to win the war but simply to engage in profitable crime under the cover of warfare (Smillie, Gberie & Hazleton, 2000, p. 2).

By 1995 the government controlled only the capital and the surrounding area and therefore it turned to the international security firm Executive Outcomes for assistance and the rebels were driven back from the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown and from some of the main diamond producing areas. Two years later President Kabbah was deposed by a military coup but Kabbah's supporters fought on with the help of weapons supplied by Sandline International, a private military company run by a former British army officer, despite a UN arms embargo. In a subsequent enquiry Sandline International claimed it had the support of the Foreign Office even though the British government officially supported the arms embargo. President Kabba returned to Freetown in March 1998 after a Nigerian-led West African intervention force, captured the capital but in January 1999 rebels attacked Freetown again.

Later in 1999 talks led to a peace agreement and UN peacekeepers were dispatched. However, the following year, rebels prevented the UN troops from being deployed in some parts of the country and fighting broke out again in many areas. The situation was transformed by the intervention of British troops in support of the UN mission and by January 2002 the conflict was over. American and European intelligence agencies trying to unravel the finances of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network believe that Al-Qaeda had been buying diamonds from Revolutionary United Front rebels and selling them in Europe for a profit.

The organisation Global Witness, which estimated in 2002 that Al-Qaeda had laundered $20 million using conflict diamonds, produced a much more detailed report in April 2003 entitled for a few dollars more, exposing the way in way in which Al-Qaeda had moved into the diamond trade over a ten year period. Therefore the restoration of stability is important not just for the long-suffering people of Sierra Leone but also for people of many other nations.

In April 2002 border guards were put on alert to prevent a massive diamond from being smuggled out of the country following rumours that massive 1,000 carat diamond had been found on the 22nd of that month. If true it would be the second largest diamond ever discovered. Later reports claimed the diamond was even bigger than previously estimated, 1,400 carats, and had arrived in Belgium.

Blood Diamonds, This is Africa - TIA

By Paul Davis

The Western world wants shiny diamonds bling bling

The unsightly human cost throughout Africa is bling bang!

Women don't really mind as long as a nice rock they find

Upon their finger when they have their storybook wedding

A self-centered society disconnected from the world

Doesn't consider the removal of hands by the sword

The butchering and amputating of limbs by froward

Revolutionaries full of greed and ready to bleed

Their nations and enslave their children for diamonds

Smugglers are soldiers of fortune at others misfortune

Peace Corps stay around until they can't help anymore

NGOs help to a degree and some profit handsomely

Missionaries save souls with salvation, but forget reformation

Ex-patriots party, play, intermarry, than up and run away

Gov't leaders stick around to steal until going into exile

Rebels don't know if they want to take over and govern

An unprecedented mess and upheaval beyond reason

Degradation and destruction beyond imagination

Incomprehensible to a sheltered civilian in the West

Proud and pretentious, having never experienced unrest

Social instability that removes life as we know it best

Such is the risk of explosive, unwarranted, cruel violence

Gruesome treatment of human life by the tens of thousands

Amputees everywhere among men, women, and children

Child soldiers throughout West Africa number beyond 200,000

Kidnapping, enforced abasement, and mental indoctrination

Infrastructure & vestiges of civility obliterated by demolition

Arms dealers trading weaponry for diamonds deadly

Mercenaries, guerillas, and foreign armies deal swiftly

Hired hirelings hoping to themselves greedily bring

Jewels, gold, oil, servants, and absolutely anything

To enrich themselves rapidly and fill their banks.

Meanwhile our academicians discuss in think tanks

MTV and Hollywood party on, teaching a lesson

To the new gangsters and criminals of Africa

Ready to really mirror our entertaining imagery

Satellite dishes and TVs provide accessibility

Connecting wholeheartedly, linking culturally

Applying what they learn to make it a reality

We can conclude than that many of us are guilty

For seducing, tantalizing, and teaching killing

Thug 101, murder to the peoples of the planet

Ravishing countries that now are falling apart

Millions of refugees displaced by war’s brutality

Bitter, broken, disoriented, forgotten, and perishing

Their psyche shattered, their bodies badly battered

War weary inhabitants buffeted by apartheid

Bloody tribal and civil wars beyond number

Inhumane disdain and disregard for human life

The dark continent with nations riddled by strife

Anarchy, kids with AK47s in charge of society

Massacres, blood baths, and hellish moments

No time to sing and exchange sweet sentiments

Ongoing slavery from Sudan to other lands

Raping, maiming, beheading, and hangings

Such is commonplace daily for diamonds

Killers, casual and career, constantly killing

Not interested in mediating, or negotiating

Numb to their own feelings and deviating

From their inner intuition and inherent humanity

That would suggest we treat people compassionately

War hardened they carry on without emotionally

Giving much time for thought, less they be shot

Wiped away from another bloody diamond day

Continual conflict and senseless struggles

Blood rising quickly well above their ankles

Hence the darker side does rapidly emerge

As the cruelty does pulverize and scourge

Any lingering of one’s identity and humanity

A father’s desire to keep together his family

All of it is removed for the sake of survival

Nobody is immune to behavior irrational

When war’s disaster approaches faster

The flawed process of procurement

Diamond auditors are rarely transparent

Therefore we the buyer must be diligent

Consumers must demand warranties

That be iron clad against atrocities

Guaranteeing the diamond we buy

Has no trail of blood, nor brutalities

That the diamond bought be conflict-free

Forty countries have signed the Kimberly

Process to stem the flow of blood diamonds

From the muck and mire of the motherland

To the ignorant consumer in Western lands.

Let us speak up and shame the industry

That plunders precious populaces ruthlessly.

Diamonds come from the heart of the earth

God’s mechanism to test the hearts of men

People will do anything to possess them

Countless bloody wars are fought for them

All who touch it have blood left on their hands

God forgive us for what we've done to this land.

We must realize when we buy things in one place

There are immediate repercussions elsewhere

That is what we call the global economy

Interlinked and connected internationally

Therefore consider closely corporate policy

When choosing a diamond practice selectivity

Discern its mining history and geography

Such a discovery can end fights abruptly

That are fueled tirelessly by opportunity

Van Der Kamp and others deny trading bloody diamonds

Give the appearance of scarcity to up the price considerably

Hear the cliché MMBA – miles and miles of bloody Africa

"God left this place a long time ago" some say

TIA – This is Africa; AWA – Africa wins again

Defeat and despair have become a common friend

Wrecked, war impoverished, and feeling hopeless

Wishing for someone outside to come and help us

No more TIA, God arise today! Change our ways.

Anoint and send more men like Reinhard Bonnke

Burn Africa deep in the hearts of leaders continually

To take immediate action and intervene strategically

To crucify their lust for more and graciously

Reverse, reform, and transform entirely

Reveal in red blood our common unity

Africa's valuable and priceless people

Her greatest resource and commodity

Deserve freedom, protection, and security

To be dealt with justly and compassionately

So they may blossom fully and wonderfully

Sing, rejoice, and celebrate triumphantly

As Africa comes together as one peaceably.


Delwery Dude said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

What a load of BS.I think you should all stop driving cars,more people have been killed for oil than diamonds.Liberal,left wing bleeding heart BULLSHIT!These are the same kind of stupid tossers who would blame a firearm for murder!This crap gives everyone in the diamond industry a bad name.
SA is ready to explode & this is what you post?

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Dear Delwery Dude, --- I normally do not bother responding to people who call me names, --- but I’ll make an exception in this case…

Firstly, this posting was timed to coincide with the anouncement that another big diamond has been discovered here on South African soil, and secondly, --- it WAS intended to give the diamond industry a bad name, because their greedy actions over the years have caused untold misery and suffering on this continent.

It would be near impossible to cover all the details of the deceitful, wicked, and malicious actions of this industry in one posting, hence the reason why I've provided links to other sources, allowing readers to explore the facts in their own time, -- something you obviously did not bother to do before leaving your rude and offensive comments.

On the subject of diamonds, -- I’ll leave you with 3 points to consider:

1. Nowadays, it’s almost a crime for a lady to wear clothing made from animal fur, but an expensive diamond is acceptable!

2. A cubic zirconia is virtually flawless, a diamond is not! (But only a cheapskate will buy a cubic zirconia, -- more proof of how we’ve been conned by the Diamond’s, the Goldberg’s, Greenberg’s etc…)

3. Who is really benefiting from the profits of diamonds mined on African soil? Or do you also believe the scam that diamond mines are running at a loss?

Your comment, that we should stop driving cars because more people have been killed for oil than diamonds, is just as preposterous as your claim that SA is ready to explode. Explode into what or where? (Have I missed something?)

The stinking-rich demonic cartel that keeps the flawed diamond industry alive, plus the gold industry, bulti-million-dollar drug industry, etc.… are the same group behind the extensive campaign to keep our vehicles dependant on oil. They really have us all (including our corrupt politicians) by the balls, don’t they? Pity some people have been totally blinded by their dazzling flashes of deception!

Anonymous said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Very nice article...reading from Tanzania!! Very nice

Like wise on facebook

Labgrown Diamoand said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Nice Blog, I am really impressed with Post. Keep sharing!!

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