Well isn’t it nice that it only took me a day before I started to talk about diamonds again? This wasn’t my original plan but I saw this letter from Mr Rapaport this morning which, quite simply, left me infuriated.
Read the letter here: martin_rapaport_letter_to_leonardo_dicaprio
Martin Rapaport is the chairman of one of the largest diamond platforms in the world and his letter was aimed to Mr Dicaprio as it has come to light that he has made a substantial donation to a new start up based in Santa Clara which can make high quality synthetic diamonds. Now you can understand why Mr Rapaport is not happy about this move, but I do believe that synthetic diamonds are the way forward.
So, what are synthetic diamonds? In simple terms, they are the same as natural diamonds, but are created in a lab, rather than by nature. The composition is the same (mainly carbon) and the structure of the atoms are the same as both processes involve objecting carbon to tremendous heat and pressure in order for carbon crystals to formalise. Synthetic diamonds are by no means a new phenomenon but it is only in recent years that synthetics are now looking pretty much like the real thing to the point that it has fooled some of the world’s most renown grading labs.
Why lab over nature? The reasons are quite obvious but to those who may not be aware, diamonds have been known to fund civil wars in Africa for generations. It has led to a black market of what is called ‘blood diamonds’ which has resulted in slavery, killings, rapes and all sorts of malice. Then there is the environmental issues of extreme digging and dumping which is involved in mining-this has resulted in severe changes in animal habitats and the displacement of many villages. In short, diamonds are bad news.
However, this is not really why this letter has anger me so much. It angers me because it asks Dicaprio to instead focus his attention to make Africa better and help those 7 million people who work in artisan mines for less than $1 a day. Well Mr Rapaport, why don’t you give some of your profits to where it belongs? The issue here is that diamonds are sadly not owned by Africa but by the likes of the DTC, Rio Tinto and De Beers among other international corporations. Even when governments and western companies come together like in Botswana, the government always gets the worse deal as the profit markup is always added once the diamonds have left the continent. In order for the millions of people who unfortunately get paid so little to receive a fair wage, consumers need to finally wake up and realise what they have in their hands/wrists/necks. Synthetics diamonds is a no-brainer, at least, until justice is restored and Africa gets to own their own mines. Do not be fooled by all the capitalist propaganda, why have blood in your hands?
So no Mr Rapaport, Dicaprio is right- synthetic diamonds are an ethical choice and much better for the environment. Start paying your dues along with the rest of your clan and then maybe, we will start buying natural diamonds once again.