Historical Context of Sustainability of Diamonds
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In ancient Greece, diamonds were believed to be splinters of constellation which had fallen on the Earth. Many theories or rather stories have been told about the origin of diamonds but up to date, it remains a misery. In the ancient times, diamonds were majorly used as symbols of wealth and social class by monarchies. But by the beginning of the 29th century, governments started trading in diamonds as they were known to be very valuable economic assets. For instance, in 1887, the French government sold off the French crown gems so as to increase finances and move away from monarchy (The Diamond Trade History, n.d.).
Diamonds in South Africa were discovered by the Boers along Orange River; they were of the alluvial type. Mining started therein, and after mining, the diamonds were shipped to Europe where they were cut and molded into the required forms which were majorly jewelry. Therefore, it can be said that these diamonds were used as means of currency to obtain other goods and services in return. But during the English colonization of Africa, the English took over the diamond industry in the country. They sold off diamonds to traders and this helped a lot boost South Africa’s economy (History of Diamonds, n.d.).
Consequently, in Central and West Africa, for instance, in countries like Congo DRC, Angola, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone amongst others export of diamonds was growing since they were considered a means of foreign exchange that could boost the economy; but civil wars rocked the nations for decades which saw these minerals being controlled by few people to sponsor more civil rebels throughout Africa. After the conflicts, little has been felt in terms of economic growth since the countries were in extreme poverty although the governments used diamonds as economic assets.
In the early history, close to 3,000 years ago, 800 B.C, diamonds were discovered in India as alluvial deposits were found along rivers Godavari, Penner, and Krishna. Since then, they were locally mined or rather collected. Their usage was local too as they were initially valued because of the capability to refract radiance. The Indians used diamonds to decorate their deities and as talismans that give protection against evil and in times of battle. This usage of diamonds was not in any way economically significant to the communities as it was not applied in monetary terms (DiamondTrade, n.d.).
Bulks of the early diamonds were transported through the famous network of old age trade routes that linked China and India, generally identified as the Silk Road. During the early ages, diamonds were valued due to their brilliance and strength; therefore, they were used in cutting tools. The other uses of gemstones in the Dark Ages included that of curing illnesses in India and Greece (The Diamond Trade History, n.d).
In Europe, diamonds began to appear between 322 and 185 BC as Alexander the Great brought them to England from India. During this time, diamonds were used for accent decoration and other considerate forms of jewelry. Most of diamonds in Europe came from Asia, primarily India, and were of alluvial nature. Some of the early trades exchanged these diamonds for goods like food, clothing, and even foreign material. During this era, local communities benefited a lot. People never thought of the environment; therefore, they did not conserve it after excavation (DiamondTrade, n.d.).
With time, the Indian diamond contribution diminished. There were less deposits in Brazil and Borneo; it was not enough to cover the rising demand for diamonds. It was during the mid 19th century that finding of diamonds close to the Orange River in South Africa ignited the world's largest diamond scuttle. A mining company founded by Cecil Rhodes came into existence in 1880 in order to control the mining of diamonds. Alluvial mining concerned the extraction of diamonds and their export to England through the ocean. Then, they were taken to cutting companies in Europe in order to be prepared to the final product of jewelry. The communities engaged in diamond extraction benefited minimally as the economic impact was very little compared to the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town where the British people benefited from the mined diamonds (History of Diamonds, n.d.).
Another famous African country which had large quantities of diamond was Angola. Diamonds there were discovered in 1913; they were mainly alluvial diamonds and kimberlite pipes. Alluvial diamonds come from rivers whereas the kimberlite pipes are found in volcanic vents. These diamonds brought lots of conflicts in the country; thus during these times, less economic gains were achieved. Presently, since the government has stabilized communities’ benefit from the diamond mining, it boosted the nation’s economy (Angolan Embassy in Canada, n.d.).
In the museum, there are lots of materials on how diamonds were used by different countries in different times in the history. For instance, the Roman diamond found in the BritishMuseum shows that there were decorated things during the old age since they contain uncut diamond. These diamonds reached Italy from India through the Roman traders who plied the rout from India to Europe (BritishMuseum, n.d.).
From the above findings its evident that for a long time diamonds in third world countries rarely benefit them economically due to exploitation by the world economic heavy weights like the UK and U.S. but with the establishment of the World Diamond Council (WDC) in 2000 saw a tremendous changes in the diamond and jewelry industries, generally in their perception of their accountability to the society (World Diamond Council (n.d.)). In addition to the laws stipulated down by the WDC, there are several recommendations I intend to make of which when followed by the affected countries would ensure that they attain economic sustainability together with protecting the environment against environmental pollution.
Each government should formulate laws and regulations touching the mining of diamonds in their respective countries and direct the responsible companies involved in the mining to put environmental safety first. Also each government should put in place a body to foreseer mining and control the selling and price of all the diamonds exploited in the country and this once implemented would ensure that economical developments rise up. Lastly communal give backs should be in the regulations where the governments give a large percentage of the earned foreign exchange to the community where the diamonds are located.
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