Continuing his ardent stand to keep conflict diamonds out of hands of U.S. consumers, Rep. Tony Hall is calling for all consumers to question the country of origin of diamonds they purchase.
The congressman plans to hold demonstrations, distributing flyers explaining the war crimes in diamond producing countries, outside large jewelry stores across the country where he will, undoubtedly press for media coverage of his cause.
Contrary to the industry’s fear that public outcries will cause a general boycott of diamonds, however, Hall and other human rights activists are actively not calling for that. They are, instead, asking consumers to not refrain from buying diamonds, but to be educated about conflict diamonds and to demand that retailers don’t sell them “blood diamonds”.
While effectively cutting off sales of conflict diamonds, Hall and Amnesty International, which is working with him on this consumer-awareness campaign, understand that a boycott could also severely damage the economy of countries like Botswana, which produces about one third of diamonds on the world market. Botswana’s government—a stable democracy in the 33 years since diamonds were discovered there—relies on legitimate diamond sales for 50% of its revenue.
“All we’re going to say is, you know where your shirt comes from, where your shoes come from. Find out where the diamond comes from before you buy it,” Hall told the Associated Press.
He stresses that Americans “don’t have to buy a diamond without knowing the country of origin.” This will carry over into his jewelry store picketing this month.
In response, a retailer must assure his consumers that he only deals with legitimate suppliers who can assure him that the diamonds he is selling to his customers are not among the 3% of U.S. imports that can be classified as conflict diamonds.