Thursday, 1 August 2013

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through, To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do, It ain't no trick to get rich quick, If you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick, In a mine! In a mine! In a mine! In a mine! Where a million diamonds shine!

The Seven Dwarves singing happily as they excavate some amazing diamonds and other gemstones just sticking out of the surface.
 A Disney View of diamond mining!

So why not buy laboratory grown diamonds? They are cheaper, better clarity and unless being examined by an expert, indistinguishable from natural diamonds. I suppose it's down to personal taste, why you want a diamond in the first instance. Personally I like the fact that natural diamonds are billions of years old created by an act of nature,  I find that amazing, even though I know diamonds aren't the rare commodity the industry would have us believe.
Then there is the argument  that by buying lab grown diamonds you are not adding to the damage to the earth and the exploitation of workers caused by the mining natural diamonds. The diamond industry gives employment to many people, how would a reduced diamond mining industry effect the workers? What alternative jobs are available?
Should the mining industry nationalised, so that the countries themselves benefit? I think I would be more comfortable if I knew the workers were benefitting more from the profits. If the diamond mine owners provided the mining communities with housing, schools, medical support, a decent standard of living and a voice that is listened to without being shot at, arrested and tortured.
I found it really hard to find an image of the inside of a diamond mine to show the working conditions, all I found was this old article (2002),
I really hope conditions have improved since then however the miners strikes in 2012 lead me to believe little has changed. I hope someone can prove me wrong. Here is an article explaining about the strikes.

Not that I want to ruin the pleasure that Diamonds give so many, just highlight the human cost. This is a very complex subject economically, politically and morally, one that I can only begin to comprehend. But what is obvious are that changes are clearly necessary and sooner rather than later.

Listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo -Nansi Imali (Here Is The Money) ,

Here is the money dug by the men in the mines
Where the fainthearted will not go
We congratulate our men for their bravery
And for risking their lives
We salute you
(written by J. Shabalala) 

Sorry to keep going on! just a quick mention on the subject of Blood Diamonds - since 2003 The Kimberley Process has worked to stem the flow of diamonds being sold to raise monies to fund conflicts. All diamonds sold should have a disclaimer to declare that to the sellers knowledge the diamonds were obtained from sources not associated with the funding wars. How successful have they been?  This article was recently published in the online guardian.

Next blog....

So what other precious gemstones can be grown in a laboratory  - lots!. The first gemstone to be created in laboratory was Quartz all the way back in 1845 this came about not for adornment but for use in industry when in Paris Pierre and Jacque Currie discovered that Quartz was a good conductor of electricity