In July 2012 and on a sort-of dare of which I admit was completely unserious, I joked to my girlfriend of two years that she was exactly 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring. As completely lacking in taste as this sounds, what matters is that I was entirely kidding. I expected this to be laughed off as usual and I would go on cooking for her at least five times per week (I do most of the cooking in our house). But this time was different and she did something truly amazing: she called my bluff and set out on making those 300 sandwiches. We started a blog about the journey (300sandwiches.com), it went viral to the tune of appearances on The Today Show and Rachel Ray, a trending hashtag, about a gigabyte of bandwidth per minute, and me being branded “The Internet’s Worst Boyfriend” — a label which, being impossible to outrun, I have grown to love and embrace.
Suddenly I found myself in a modest spotlight, and in the market for an engagement ring that could somehow equal the level of care, attention, effort and love that has gone in to the herculean yet unnecessary feat of making 300 sandwiches (I already love her, sandwiches or not). This implied, as is the mostly likely case in the western world, a diamond. Truth be told, I had hated diamonds for years, because I thought I had seen past the sparkle to see them for what they really were: intrinsically worthless, vastly overpriced sparkly little things, sold by a morally-loose monopoly, doing little good in the world. I thought this because I had already read the history of De Beers, watched the documentaries about “blood diamonds” and the Sierra Leone Civil War in which the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) would kindly ask people “do you want short sleeves or long sleeves?” before amputating their arms either at the wrist or above the elbows. I had also seen the film Blood Diamond years ago and so had long ago made up my mind: not a chance in hell.
But the world has changed since then, so I sought out to discover the truth with fresh eyes, and what I found surprised me. Diamonds, as I was to learn, have the capacity to do extraordinary good in the world, and in many cases, are already doing so. That my previously-held opinions needed reexamination was clear, but I would also discover that If I’m going to procure a diamond as a symbol representative of my commitment, I’ll need to find one with a story worthy of that lofty status. Beyond a “conflict-free” stone (that’s incredibly easy to do at the moment, just by playing the numbers), my goal is to procure a “love diamond” (if you get my drift). I would later learn that such diamonds definitely do exist, but are not harvested everywhere diamonds are found and not traded or sold everywhere diamonds are either, and guarantees are almost non-existent.
Part I: From Mine to “Mine”
Where do diamonds come from, how are they mined, and how do they ultimately wind up behind a jewelry case?
Part II: Inclusions & Blemishes
“Conflict diamonds”, The Kimberley Process, its shortcomings, weak points in the supply chain.
Part III: Brilliance, Fire, Scintillation
Diamonds doing good in the world through economic growth, positive movements from within the industry itself.
Part IV: Finding Your Diamond in the Rough
Frustrations consumers may find, pitfalls to avoid, and an abbreviated list of vigilant companies that sell diamonds worthy of your commitment.