A note on Synthetic Diamonds

Synthetic or lab-grown diamonds are becoming more common. Some advertising suggests that they will contribute to ending unethical mining practices in developing countries. The logic in this, however, is doubtful, especially where the world’s 1.5 million independent artisanal diamond miners are concerned. Most live and work under deplorable conditions because they are poor and because there are few alternatives for them, not because there are no alternatives for consumers.

Campaigning against the diamonds they produce simply makes matters worse for them. Worse, advertising a ‘superior’ product takes advantage of them, as so many others have done over the decades.

The lot of artisanal diamond miners will not be improved in any way by synthetic diamonds. As DDI is demonstrating, however, economic and social change is possible in the diamond fields of Africa and South America if the problems are targeted with direct and thoughtful legal, social and economic action on the part of governments, industry and civil society.