Local Jeweler Helping Stop The Sale Of African Conflict Diamonds

Saturday, March 24th 2007, 9:59 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa jewelry store owner is part of the effort to make sure the diamond industry doesn't support conflicts in Africa. It's been a more prominent issue since a movie came out about it, but Vicki Cunningham says the movie didn't tell the whole story.

Almost every diamond comes from Africa, but Vicki Cunningham says the diamonds she sells are not from countries at war. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports only recently have diamond retailers been able to give that assurance to their customers.

"They want to be sure the diamonds they're buying are from a good source," said Vicki Cunningham, owner of Cunningham Fine Jewelry.

Customers only recently have been asking, some because of the movie “Blood Diamond,” a film about the civil war in Sierra Leone. It makes the case that everyone who buys a diamond is helping fuel the wars in Africa.

"As an industry, unfortunately for us, we had already tackled that issue well before the movie came out, we had stopped that flow of conflict diamonds and the movie doesn't tell you that," said Cunningham.

Cunningham is just back from South Africa, where she's helping shape the ethics of the diamond industry. She says what Hollywood calls 'blood diamonds' and the industry calls 'conflict diamonds' are becoming the rarest diamond of them all.

"That conflict is over, but today, as an industry, we can say that less than 1% of all diamonds come from conflict areas," she said.

Cunningham says diamond stores should have complete records on what they're selling and be able to produce the guarantees that show their diamonds are not conflict diamonds.