Our Impact

Understanding the Impact of the Jewelry Industry

At Bashford Jewelry, we are passionate about our beautiful diamonds and gemstones. But, that passion is far exceeded by our efforts to ensure that our diamonds and other precious metals did not impact negatively through socially and environmentally harmful practices in sourcing and creation. Because there are still severe and unfortunate issues plaguing our industry today, it is important to understand the human and environmental cost of immoral and unethical diamond and gold mining.

Far from being the symbol of love that diamonds and other precious metals are supposed to be, most of these items are mired in blood, misery and despair for the people involved in the trade at source, especially in African and some Latin American countries.

Devastating Impacts of Blood Diamonds and Gold Mining

Wars cannot be fought without adequate capital resources. To this end, rebel groups in control of diamond mines sell these diamonds to gain the necessary funding to undertake various wars, especially in Africa. One example of this has been the civil war in Sierra Leone. Radicals from the group known as the Revolutionary United Front have killed and maimed those living and working in diamond villages to gain power and control over the region. In all, roughly 20,000 innocent people have suffered mutilation, more than 75,000 have been killed, and 2 million have fled Sierra Leone altogether. In another heart wrenching case, civil wars associated with the diamond trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo claimed over 3 million lives between 1998 and 2003.
The violence meted out in the struggle for control of diamond mines or to protect life and property have also been devastating. Apart from infighting within own organizations that sometimes spill out onto innocents, there are also governments versus the rebels, and persons protecting themselves. For example, in Brazil, illegal miners (known as garimpeiros) were killed by the Cinta Largain tribe when they tried to mine diamonds on their lands. In Liberia, separate civil wars have led to the displacement of over 1 million people and widespread human rights abuses.
Most of the ‘workers’ in conflict-diamond mines are adults and children who are forced to work under horrible conditions with the threat of death or violence if they refuse. For those who may willingly choose to work in the mines with the hopes of making a living, they are forced to work in unsafe conditions in mines that do not meet basic standards for safety and security.
The communities in which these mines are located are generally impoverished as the wealth from these minerals and metals are accrued to the owners of the mines. The people who risk their lives whether voluntarily or forcefully are never the ones to benefit from the billion-dollar trade. The profits are all in the hands of rebels, government officials and corporations who own or source their diamonds from these mines. These diamond rich countries have failed to benefit from their natural resources.
There are persons who choose to dig for diamonds in hopes of securing a chance to take themselves and their family out of poverty. Unfortunately, in certain countries, for example Zimbabwe, local miners are tortured by soldiers when they refuse to hand over all the diamonds found. Torture and rape are known tactics of both rebels and government sanctioned soldiers in trying to force populations of people to work in diamond mines.
Unlike mines located in the Canadian Arctic that have to meet strict safety and environmental measures, and are governed not only by government regulations but also environmental watch groups, illegal and conflict-diamond mines are unsafe and dangerous to work in. Without proper standards in place, these are death traps for children and other workers who are forced to work in them.
In Latin America, especially Brazil, illegal mining in the amazon rainforest which has large deposits of gold, diamond and tin are currently affecting the natural rainforest. Gold and diamond mining affect the natural ecosystem through contamination, displacement of the earth leading to soil erosion sand the death of wildlife. These excavations also cause conflict with local indigenous tribes which have led to deaths of tribe members and illegal miners alike.
Cyanide poisoning leads prevents cells from using oxygen and leading to eventual death which resembles suffocation. Inhalation of mercury will lead harmful effects on the nervous system and organs of the body. Unfortunately, these are some of the issues that are associated with mining activities for precious metals and minerals.

Mercury from illegal mining operations in the Amazon has been contaminating indigenous populations in Brazil leading to dangerously high levels of mercury in their systems. Based on a study conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in partnerships with other groups, the closer the population is the site of the mines, the higher their contamination levels. The effects of these contamination issues will be felt for years to come.
Government corruption has also contributed to the high incidence of conflict diamonds making it to the general market and into the hands of unsuspecting consumers. They turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by owners of these mines and sometimes illegal mining. There are also too many the companies involved in the trade who turn a blind eye to the activities that take place in getting their diamonds, gold and other precious metals to them.