The Message of ‘Blood Diamond’… Will It Get Noticed?

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The old saying is “Two months salary for an engagement ring.” Obviously with the divorce rate rising above 50-percent for marriage in the United States calling this an “old” saying is almost old itself. However, it still goes on, the buying of expensive diamonds without recognizing who may have been killed, exploited or maimed just to get you that diamond… How much do you know about the diamond you just bought for your fiancée?

With the upcoming release of Warner Bros. newest feature film Blood Diamond the issue of conflict diamonds is brought to the forefront and I couldn’t help but wonder if the message will get across to viewers or if it will be lost in the popcorn action the film offers. After watching Blood Diamond I couldn’t help but notice I had just watched a very entertaining film, but if it hadn’t been for the words at the end of the film I am not sure if I would have even thought twice about the “message” inside the movie, it isn’t exactly blatant and I am not sure it was supposed to be.

In an interview with DiCaprio he told press he didn’t see the movie as a message movie alone, it needed to be entertaining as well, “It has to be a good movie and it has to convey a message without the audience feeling they are being preached to and I really felt this script accomplished that.” I would say they accomplished the not being preached to part, but I am not quite sure the message will stick.

What exactly is a conflict diamond? What are we talking about?

On offsite of the official Blood Diamond movie site tells us:

Conflict or blood diamonds fuel conflict, civil wars and human rights abuses. They have been responsible for funding recent conflicts in Africa, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people. During these conflicts, profits from the illegal trade in diamonds, worth billions of dollars, were used by warlords and rebels to buy arms. Diamonds have also been used by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda to finance their activities and to launder money.

As the brutal conflict in Sierra Leone shows, even a small amount of conflict diamonds can wreak enormous havoc in a country. Even now, up to $23 million of conflict diamonds are entering the legitimate diamond trade annually from Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa.

The diamond industry has not exactly been a supporter of a movie that brings all this to the forefront (read an LA Times article about that here) and may have actually brought more attention to the issue than would have ever been raised had they kept their mouths shut. One thing that was put in place to put a halt to the trade of conflict diamonds was the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, an international governmental certification scheme that was set up to prevent the trade in diamonds that fund conflict. Launched in January 2003, the scheme requires governments to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free from blood diamonds. As Blood Diamond shows you, these conflict diamonds actually work their way into the legitimate diamonds and blood diamonds still exist and are entering the legitimate trade.

While the results are two years old, Amnesty International has posted a survey of 246 diamond stores and found that only 27% of shops were able assure us that they had a policy on conflict diamonds, when asked whether consumers inquired about conflict diamonds, 83% of respondents answered rarely or never and 110 shops refused outright to take the survey. Refused? Why? This survey was taken almost two years after the Kimberley Process took effect. Things should be cool by that time shouldn’t they?

However, in an effort to present both sides, the World Diamond Council reports on their site that, “Today 71 governments have enshrined into their national law the Kimberley Process Certification System, and now more than 99% of the world’s diamonds are from conflict free sources.” This is a quote you will find littered all over that site.

Granted each side is bound to paint a different picture. Amnesty International has an objective of zero tolerance and the diamond industry must protect its image. Whether Blood Diamond gets its message across or not it seems the international diamond trade still faces an uphill battle. When asked for their opinion on buying diamonds DiCaprio and Blood Diamond director, Edward Zwick, only hoped people would ask before buying.

“You have to go into the stores where you buy these diamonds at and ask for a certificate and ask for some authentification that this isn’t a conflict diamond,” DiCaprio said, “You have to, as a consumer, use your best judgment to say, ‘You know what? I believe you are being truthful in what you are saying and I see the document and you’ve proved to me this isn’t a conflict diamond.’ That’s one of the biggest ways this whole process can be stopped.”

Zwick continued the sentiment saying, “It’s a rare opportunity to actually have an effect. Because it was awareness that helped bring this process about and it will be heightened awareness that will help it. That’s not always the case in the world. But in this particular case, if that awareness is increased then things will get better. So, it’s an individual choice, but it has to be an informed choice.”

Read more of our interview with the cast of Blood Diamond here.

For more on information on blood diamonds you can visit any of the following sites: