The Story Behind the Sparkle
Where do Martin Katz Diamonds come from?
The value and mystique of a diamond comes from both the scarcity of fine quality stones and the effort it takes to find them deep inside the earth. Millions of tons of ore might yield only a few carats of top-quality gems.
There are two ways diamonds are found: deep mining or alluvial deposits. Alluvial deposits come from centuries of water erosion that leave gem-containing soil and sediment loosely packed at the earth’s surface (typically near rivers and other water sources). Alluvial diamond mining is somewhat less complicated than recovering diamonds from deep inside the earth, which is done by open-pit and/or underground mining. Since that can have major environmental impact, diamond mining companies spend a great deal of money on ensuring the environment is disturbed as little as possible and restored afterwards.
I wanted to see firsthand just how this works, and if what they claim to do to preserve the environment is actually true. In 2008 I took a trip to visit two of De Beers’ diamond mines, Orapa and Letlhakane, both in Botswana. It was a phenomenal experience to see the origins of the beautiful stones I design with. It was also gratifying to see De Beers’ responsible sourcing programs in action. This ranged from wildlife conservation, to clean water supply, to funding healthcare and schools in diamond communities.
De Beers isn’t alone in its quest for sustainability. Rio Tinto, which owns the Argyle mine in Australia (the current source of most of world’s pink diamonds today), works with the indigenous population there and at its other mines (in Canada and India) to ensure that the local population benefits from the economic development of the mines, and that native plants and animals are not harmed but often helped.
Russian-based Alrosa, the third of the three largest diamond miners, supports communities in Yakutia (Siberia) where it operates, through healthcare, education, and financial assistance to help natives continue their traditional agricultural way of life.
Environmental sustainability is only part of the diamond industry’s commitment to ethical sourcing. The other part is ensuring that diamonds are not used as a means of funding war or human rights abuses. In 2003, the Kimberley Process was developed to guarantee that only diamonds obtained ethically and legitimately are granted a place in the supply chain. Since that time, industry regulations require every parcel of diamonds be accounted for at every step of the journey from the mine to the jeweler. Each must have a stamped certificate guaranteeing that it has been legitimately sourced. Ensuring these regulations work as intended is the responsibility of each member of the supply chain. I take my responsibility very seriously. I work only with Kimberley-compliant suppliers, and I use only diamonds that have been vetted by the Kimberley Process.