Behind the glimmering beauty of diamonds is the uncomfortable truth of what it truly takes to produce just a single piece of this stone. Victoria Wieck unveils the curtain about conflict-free diamonds, explaining how one piece of paper cannot guarantee that its production has no legal issues. She discusses how child labor, smuggling, civil conflicts, and death continue to paint diamonds red before they reach the store you are buying from. Victoria also presents a suitable alternative to save yourself from contributing to the hidden and worsening horrors of the diamond industry.
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First of all, welcome everybody. If you haven’t subscribed to my show yet, please go ahead and do so. I don’t know why I took so long to do this episode. It is something that’s very much in my heart. It’s something I’m extremely passionate about. In fact, I founded a whole company based on my passion for this. I’m glad to be able to do this episode.
It’s a solo episode. I have no guests. It is about Conflict Free Diamonds. I know that the Christmas season is coming right up in the corner. In fact, we are right in the middle of it now. Every year, millions of Americans buy diamonds of some sort because 75% of American women won’t have jewelry on their wish list for Christmas.
I want to talk a little bit about conflict-free diamonds. Many of you know that I have been in the jewelry business for many years. About 33 years of that, I was in my own business but before that, I worked for other people as well. The idea of conflict-free diamonds is something that’s new and many of you who are Millennial buyers looking for your bridal ring for the first time. It’s such an exciting time in your life and such an event. The anticipation of getting married, starting a whole new chapter that should be full of excitement and anticipation in many good ways.
This is when you are building the building blocks of your life with your significant other. There are quite a few of you who are getting married for the second time, learning from the first one, and starting a whole new life as well. If you are a diehard believer of earth-mined diamonds and you think that because you’ve got a piece of paper from some retailer saying that we guarantee that everything is conflict-free, I don’t judge you by that. I want to give you some information about what I know, having been the leader in the industry for a long time. It’s a free country. You can make all your own judgments.
More than 75% of American women will have jewelry on their wishlist for Christmas every year.
Let’s talk about conflict-free diamonds. First off, what is the definition of conflict-free? We know that there are 3.8 million people that have died in the mining and cutting because of the diamond industry. Most of the killing and the death, and all that has stopped. There is no diamond war. “Is there such thing as true conflict-free oil?” I want to ask you that question, I’m going to close this whole session with that question. What is your moral standard for conflict-free?
Have you ever watched the movie Blood Diamond with Leonardo DiCaprio? If you have, good for you. In my opinion, that was well done. It’s very factual. At that time that movie was made, all that stuff was going on, the killing, kidnapping, war, and smuggling are very active. If you have not watched the movie, I suggest that you do that because to me, it’s very important.
There was such an outcry and outrage when the movie came out about how diamonds are mined, how it gets here, and what causes all of the destruction, death, and suffering. Needlessly, because American brides want a white rock for their wedding. Along with a lot of other things, such as the internet, people are able to google stuff and go to these places virtually by way of the internet that it led to this whole idea now that a lot of retailers are promoting their diamonds as conflict-free. Some of them will even advertise that they strictly adhere to the Kimberley Process.
If you haven’t watched the movie, watch the movie, because this will give you a lot of contexts. If you watched the movie, you saw a lot of innocent people, mostly young men, including little boys being kidnapped to work in these mines. The lucky ones work there for several years before they escape but a lot of them don’t escape and they die.
The 3.8 million people that have died in connection with diamond mining, mostly in the 23 diamond-producing countries, mostly in Africa, that fact comes from Amnesty International and a lot of other international authorities. I don’t think there was a dispute on that. Diamonds have been mined for the last thousand years in those countries.
I’m in the business, many of the people that will tell you that, “We adhere to Kimberley Process and all of that.” The things that are going on, do you think it’s okay for children under 18 or are 9, 10, 5 years old to be living near the mine, not going to school, not seeing medical care because both their parents’ work. They don’t have a babysitter or anything like that. Even though these kids are not mining actively at age 7, 8 or 9, they are not going to school and getting educated. To me, that’s conflict.
How can a retailer or your local jeweler in America, who has never been there guarantee you that diamonds do not hurt the economy, environment or do not have kids in those mines because they don’t even know where these mines are half the time when they get it to their stores and sell it? Using that as a backdrop, I’m not saying that every retailer in America is out there to screw you. I’m saying that maybe some of them believe that they are getting conflict-free diamonds, the war in Sierra Leone, all the warlords that have stopped, so people aren’t killing themselves.
If you have a higher moral standard of what is happening instead of killings, I don’t think it’s conflict-free. If you tell me, “I’m going to give you this piece of paper. I’m going to give you the seal of my stamp that says, ‘These diamonds conflict-free and I’m Victoria Wieck.’ Would you buy it from me?” You wouldn’t. If you get it from some major retail store that has about 50 stores, would you buy it from them? They don’t have a mine up there. I don’t know how they can.
The other thing is I will say that in some mines they may have rules posted like, “Kids under eighteen can’t work here,” whatever. I have been to a lot of factories all over the world. I have been to numerous countries. I can’t even name half the countries that I have been to because I have been to a lot of them. I care about people, manufacturers, and quality so I took the time to go and meet people, work among them, eat with them.
They can post it all day long but there are lots of times they will look the other way around because they want a cover story that, “Our mine is strict about this or that,” but in reality, they can’t enforce that because they will lose half of their workers. They reproduced a lot. There are a lot of kids there. For me, that’s not conflict-free.
The other thing that may shock you is that most diamond mines all over the world, there are a few exceptions and they are not in Africa. None of the diamond mines in Africa have their own cutting facilities. What happens is they mine diamonds, some of them are smuggled out, done by the village lords, government sanctions or whatever. They are all mined there and shipped in individual packages to cutting centers around the world. Most cutting centers are in places like India, Russia and Belgium. Cutting centers are all over the world and there are quite a few of them.
When day grab 50-karats from here, 5-karats from there, 1-karat from there, do you think they have a chain of custody for every single stone? We are talking millions of karats and stones. No, they can’t. In the cutting centers, they are all mixed in because these cutting centers are not going to cut it and send it back to the miner. They buy the stuff and mix it all up.
It’s like if you are a farmer, you buy a wine producer and grapes from Mexico and California or wherever, and you are having to mark every little bottle of grape, “This is from this winery. That’s from that farm,” it’s like saying, “I’m having a certificate for every single grain of rice in the bag.” That doesn’t happen.
Around 3.8 million people have died in the mining and cutting of the diamond industry.
To me, the guarantee is a suspect. Those two things happen. As I sit here, is there no conflict? Is there no place where we can get conflict-free diamonds then? Yes, there are. You can get them in Canada. Canadians do mine diamonds and it’s mined in the Arctic Circle within Canada. It’s cold, they only mine a couple of months a year and they use a lot of technology like robots and grownups that have to use engineering science to go do that. Canadian diamonds are laser engraved with the maple leaf before it leaves the country. That’s how you know that it’s a Canadian diamond.
My daughter started her diamond company because she was outraged. Her company is called Rachel and Victoria. Her name is Rachel Victoria Wieck. When she went shopping because her mother is a designer, she didn’t have intentions of buying any diamonds there. I’m busy, so she wanted to shop for styles. She walked into a retail store in San Diego, a very upper-end store. It’s sat right next to Tiffany’s. It’s a pretty high-end store. She asked if she could see the Canadian diamonds and the behind the counter said, “Yes,” and showed her a bunch of stuff.
She said, “Where’s the little maple leaf because I have heard that it has a maple leaf on the girdle?” He said, “When you buy it, we will engrave it for you.” Obviously, that’s not kosher. It’s not right because Canadian diamonds leave Canada before it’s exported here. The other place we can get true conflict-free diamonds would be places like Australia in Argyle mine, which is out of Australia. They don’t produce high-quality white diamonds. They do a lot of the champagne diamonds and other color diamonds but they don’t use child labor. They don’t have children. They don’t pay subpar wages. Those two that I know are at the top of my head.
The other option you have, if you are into diamonds, is lab-grown diamonds. These are diamonds that are not cubic zirconia or moissanite. They DNA-cloned a mother diamond. They will take a diamond and DNA clone it. It grows in the exact same process that Mother Earth does but it does it much faster. It does it in a lab. Mr. DiCaprio is an investor in one of the processes. Those are the choices you have.
The reason why this was very dear to me is that, when I was getting married, I didn’t know anything about this. We did not know the whole backstory about the destruction and all of that. The war didn’t happen either at that point but I have grown and I have been educated about this. For example, when I go to a trade show and I listened to some diamond guy lecturing about what’s wrong with the lab-grown diamonds, the CZs, everything other than the diamond.
He will tell the audience that the diamond industry is the most generous industry in the world. They are out there giving jobs to the poorest countries in the world. I would ask them, “You have been mining diamonds in Africa for a thousand years and diamonds have sold at some crazy high prices, higher than any other gemstone in the world. Why are these countries still poor? Shouldn’t they be ruling the world because they have it pretty abundantly over there?”
The other thing about diamonds is they are not rare. It’s one of the plentiful gemstones in the world. “Why are they still poor since you are generous?” That’s my first question. The more logical questions I ask, the more I was educated. I want to give you some education so that you can make a decision based on the information because I didn’t have the information.
For example, sun damage can kill you and cause cancer. I didn’t have any of that information. Thank God, I was allergic to the sun pretty much most of my life. I couldn’t go out in the sun, on the beach as everybody else could but a lot of my friends did get skin cancer or melanoma from over baking their bodies the whole time. We didn’t know that.
When I was growing up, nobody told us that cigarette smoking can kill you. There were lawsuits and all this coverage about secondhand smoking as well. We now know that firsthand smoking kills you and secondhand smoking kills you most of the time as well. If you had information, I want you to know if you are going to still go and buy the Earth-mined diamond, try to make sure that you stick with the Canadian diamonds or you go with the Argyle diamonds. A piece of paper isn’t something that can guarantee you that they are paying high wages or they have no children there, all those stuff.
For me, the moral standard conflict-free has to be a little bit higher than nobody is dying now. It’s from the same people that caused 3.8 million people to die. That’s my thing on the conflict-free diamond. If you want more information, you can go and check out my daughter’s website, which is RachelAndVictoria.com. As far as we know, it’s the only bridal site dedicated to Millennial brides that sell only truly conflict-free. We don’t give you pieces of paper. We don’t even deal with Earth-mined diamonds. We only deal with diamonds that we know for a fact use this technology to grow it and all the other stuff.
That’s my information on conflict-free diamonds. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season this 2021. Keep doing everything that you are doing. I love connecting with you. Also, check out all the freebie webinars that I give. It’s helped a lot of people to unlock the secret to certain parts of their businesses. Thank you much for reading. Until next time. Please, stay healthy and happy. I wish you a happy Christmas. Stay well.