Who doesn’t love diamonds? They have a beautiful sparkle and suggest a high level of financial success. Since Ancient Rome, diamonds have been used as engagement rings to symbolize commitment as well as to indicate prosperity. Ancient Romans placed the diamond engagement ring on the left ring finger which they believed contained the vein of love or the vein that led directly to the heart. Diamond engagement rings demonstrate peace and love and reflect a formal agreement that a marriage will occur in the future. While engagement rings with other precious stones are purchased on occasion, diamonds are by far the most popular stone chosen. This may in part be due to the 1947 De Beers ad campaign.
During the Great Depression, diamond sales were dipping. In an article on houzz.com purchasing a diamond was seen as a frivolous waste of money. De Beers sought to turn that around by hiring N.W. Ayer and Son Advertising Agency who took on the goal of creating “a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring”. As a result of this goal, the slogan “A diamond is forever” came about. This continues to be De Beers’ slogan to this day and the sale of diamonds has enjoyed an uptick since this time.
There is no doubt that diamonds are dreamy, but one must keep in mind the sometimes horrible situations that have arisen as a result of the diamond trade, particularly in Africa. Blood diamonds or conflict diamonds are diamonds mined to support violence and War Lord Activity including purchasing guns and ammunition. Some diamond fields are mined by forced laborers, often children. The human rights abuses that sometimes occur in the mining of blood diamonds include torture, rape and murder. In 2001 the World Diamond Council put in place the Kimberley Process which determines origin and ownership of diamonds in an attempt to keep blood diamonds off the market. Currently only about one percent of diamonds on the market can be considered blood or conflict diamonds.
One man, Frans Schoeman, Director of Phatsima Diamond in Bellville, South Africa and a Business Law Attorney with over 20 years of practice, is determined to prove that diamond mining can be done in such a way to preserve the South African environment and support human rights. Phatsima Diamond uses precious stones such as diamonds, tanzanite, rubies, topaz, emeralds and pearls along with white or yellow gold, titanium, platinum or palladium to develop made to order jewelry. In addition to being the Director of Phatsima Diamond, Mr. Schoeman provides legal services to South African corporations in many areas including mining and environmental law. His focus is to better his community and the country of South Africa through a focus on human rights and sustainable diamond mining.