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article imageHollywood Film Prompts Industry Crackdown on Blood Diamonds

By Chris Hogg     Jan 6, 2007 in Business
If there's one thing Hollywood does well, it has to be its ability to turn other industries on their head. Now, the film Blood Diamond is forcing the diamond industry to put in extra efforts to police itself and crack down on diamonds that fund civil wars
In recent news coming out of South Africa, the The World Diamond Council (WDC) now fears that the precious gems from Zimbabwe might be leaking onto the black market.
Reports now show that diamonds are being smuggled from Zimbabwe into South Africa where they are certified and exported. This is a clear violation of international rules designed to stop conflict diamonds that fund civil wars from making it to market.
In an email to Reuters, WDC Chairman Eli Izhakoff said the industry is trying to police itself and prevent conflict diamonds from being sold around the world.
The news also comes at a convenient time, as the Hollywood film Blood Diamond recently hit theaters. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly and follows the story of a farmer, diamond smuggler and a syndicate of businessmen. In incredibly powerful scenes of raw violence, the film depicts the bloodshed, child soldiers and civil war common in areas of Africa where diamond smuggling fuels civil wars. The movie is set during Sierra Leone's civil war, "notorious for drug-crazed rebels who hacked limbs off women and children," as Reuters describes.
"Such illegal exportation presents a clear threat to the integrity of the legitimate export process as a whole," Izhakoff said to Reuters in the letter dated December 15. Izhakoff says diamonds found in Zimbabwe's River Ranch mine and a district called Marange where being smuggled to be sold in international markets.
The legal consultant of River Ranch denies that diamonds are being smuggled. The mine began operating in the summer of 2006 under new ownership, after it was voluntarily liquidated in 1999.
"I am a bit distressed at the World Diamond Council," retired judge George Smith told Reuters. "We have not sold any diamonds yet and Ministry of Mines officials are in the process of checking our security systems."
Zimbabwe has seen inflation rise more than 1,000 per cent (the highest in the world), as the country struggles to control poverty and nation-wide economic problems.
According to Reuters, Zimbabwe is only a small player in the world of diamonds, but the company that owns 78 per cent of the country's diamond mines says 148,000 carats were sold between January and September, 2006.
With such a lucrative business on the line, the industry now seriously worries the release of Blood Diamond will kill sales of diamonds. The industry says illegal diamonds have been reduced to less than one per cent of the global total for diamond sales.
For more info about the movie, check out the trailer:
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