When Antoinette and I got engaged, I purchased a cultured (i.e. synthetic) diamond, concerned about the role that the diamond trade plays in provoking conflict. Here’s what it looks like. At the time, I seriously considered using a saphire, since I believed the trade in saphires was child-labor free and less tainted by violence, but I geeked out and went with the nifty space-age synthetic, all the while chanting Marx’s line: “If we could succeed, at a small expenditure of labour, in converting carbon into diamonds, their value might fall below that of bricks.” Right now, I’m really glad I didn’t fall for the naturalistic fallacy. If I had, the gem would likely have come from Madagascar, and I would be complicit in this:
The town of Ilakaka in Madagascar did not exist 10 years ago, but now people are flocking there in search of sapphires. As a result, it has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous places in the country.
News reports are easy to ignore, but the Boston Globe’s Big Picture has the photographs to prove that the town’s 19,000 children work alongside their families in the mines.