What are Diamonds

What are conflict diamonds/blood diamonds/diamonds? What are diamonds used for, and what do diamonds symbolize?

What is a diamond?

When asked what diamonds are, the textbook answer is without doubt: diamonds are allotropes of carbon. A diamond is the hardest known natural material, and the third hardest material. Derived from the Greek adamas, the word also means ‘invincible’.

What are diamonds used for?

Since diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds, they make excellent abrasives. Because of its high dispersion of light, the diamond’s fire and brilliance make it ideal for jewelry and various industrial applications. In the diamond industry, gem-grade diamonds are used largely for jewelry (trade controlled most notably by De Beers), while industrial-grade diamonds are valued largely for their hardness and heat conductivity. Main industrial uses include cutting, drilling, polishing; highly anticipated future applications include using diamonds as semi-conductors and as heat sinks.

What do diamonds symbolize?

Diamonds, with its Greek connotations of indestructibility, symbolize unparalleled beauty, eternal love and the unyielding strength of marriage. Engagement ring tradition. Diamonds are also a symbol of power; jewelry used to be adornments worn only by the nobles and the aristocracy. Diamond symbolism varied according to culture: while the Romans believed that diamonds were splinters of fallen stars, the Tibetan Buddhists valued the diamond highly and indeed adopted the Diamond Sutra as one of the most popular texts.

In the modern context, diamonds continue to be a symbol of class – a luxury good that indicates wealth, style and fashion at the same time.

What are conflict diamonds, and what are blood diamonds?

Conflict/blood diamonds mark a harrowing history of bloodshed and conflict. Officially defined by the UN, they are diamonds used by insurgent forces and factions to fund military action in opposition to the legitimate, internationally recognized government. The main affected countries include Angola and Sierra Leone. Widely recognized as a moral obligation, conflict diamonds have become the focus of Human Rights groups and various international bodies to control conflict diamond financing.

Clean Diamond Act

Implemented by President Bush in April 2003 as a measure against conflict diamond financing, the Clean Diamond Act restricts the import of rough diamonds from countries that do not comply with international trade standards. The sale of blood diamonds in the US will thus stop, cutting off one of the sources of funds for the violent civil conflicts in Africa.

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