Diamonds are a girl's best friend. A diamond engagement ring is a symbol of love. The bigger the diamond is, the more your man loves you. These are some of the messages our modern culture has sold us.
The reality looks quite different. Time magazine did an article about the diamond industry this fall. In the Sept. 7/ Sept. 14, 2015 issue of Time magazine Aryn Baker/Tshikapa writes: "It's been 15 years since the global effort to ban blood diamonds. But the industry is still tainted by conflict and misery"
I find it really interesting that although we are more educated than ever we still fall for cultural trends and ideals like this one so easily. Although we know the diamond industry involves child labour, slavery and other kinds of misery we still happily buy our diamonds and consider them "symbols of love". In the 1820's rich people had slaves and didn't think that was wrong, today we buy diamonds and conflict minerals like gold and tungsten and don't think there is a problem with this custom.
At age 26 I myself was happily engaged with a big diamond ring on my finger, a few months later I happened to watch a couple of documentaries about the diamond industry. After watching the documentaries about the reality I felt disgusted by how I had let the cultural ideal decide what I believed about love and engagement rings. I realized that it's sometimes surprising and scary how much we conform to what the majority group is doing in our societies. We think we do things because we want to do them, but are we sure that's why we do what we do, or are we just trying to fit in and measure up to a cultural ideal?
After I had gotten married I started doing more research into the diamond industry and read up about the four major conflict minerals. Today I choose to avoid buying or wearing diamonds, gold, tin and other major conflict minerals. I'm always on the lookout for new brands that sell jewelry that is certified fair trade. I think that in today's world, where we buy almost everything from abroad, we have to be more alert and aware of what our shopping habits are supporting. Are we supporting fair trade or are we supporting an industry that continues to use child labour, slaves and involve all kinds of violence?