A Backgrounder on Blood Diamonds

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tom Zoellner, author of The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire, talks about the history and politics of blood diamonds, their involvement in Charles Taylor's trial, and the recent US legislation to regulate conflict minerals.


Tom Zoellner

Comments [16]

Amy from Manhattan

I'm glad Mr. Zoellner debunked the idea that the Hutu-Tutsi conflict is "ancient," but he left out the part in the middle, where Belgium ruled the country through Tutsi & promoted division btwn. them & the Hutu.

The other conflict minerals Daniel & Maggie brought up are the subject of a project to get to get electronics mfrs. to stop using them (

And to Juli: No, the US gov't. doesn't abuse workers to extract minerals--we leave that to private companies. I'm not saying all of them do that, but it happens too often & the gov't. doesn't do enough to prevent it.

Aug. 13 2010 11:26 AM

jm, I should also think they are a bad investment idea, since their values are artificially inflated and if the monopoly on the diamond market were to ever disappear, the value could collapse several orders of magnitude.

Aug. 13 2010 11:07 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Couldn't get on the air w/this: There's an org. called the Diamond Empowerment Fund ( that donates money from diamond sales to "education and empowerment Africans locally." I was hoping to find out if Mr. Zoellner knows of it & whether he thinks it's legitimate. I hope so--buying diamonds that actually benefit Africans would be even better than just avoiding conflict diamonds.

Aug. 13 2010 11:04 AM

I've never understood the obsession other people have with diamonds...I guess I was immune to DeBeers marketing/social conditioning. Would it really kill everyone to stop buying them for ornamental or investment purposes, given the possibility of a bloody history?

Aug. 13 2010 10:46 AM
The Truth from Becky

No Brian, you guys did NOT give the most important information/background about how these blood diamonds are harvested out of the ground!

The brutality, the children the bloodshed involved in the harvesting.

Aug. 13 2010 10:46 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

The difference between using our natural resources for our wars versus the other wars is that we are not abusing our workers to extract our resources whereas Charles Taylor and those like him are abusing the workers in order to obtain these goods.

Aug. 13 2010 10:45 AM
John Weber from The Real Jersey Shore

I got my wife's diamond from Canada. I felt pretty confident it actually came from Canada. They included all sorts of certification etc.

Aug. 13 2010 10:45 AM

Are you including under the heading of "conflict minerals" also the rare-earth minerals that are in every cell phone and computer?

Aug. 13 2010 10:44 AM
Brad from Brooklyn

How accurate was the blockbuster "Blood Diamond" movie?

Aug. 13 2010 10:43 AM
Bee from Somerville for synthetic diamonds. Nobody notices the difference. My parents think my Fiance spent a fortune and I know it has no possible conflict! I'm guilt free and enjoy the beauty and sparkle of the stones!

Aug. 13 2010 10:43 AM
Emm from Ridgewood

Is it true that some countries are ok (e.g., Canadian diamonds)?
Ugh, i'm just trying to rationalize my own...& i trusted the dealer when they said "canadian, so they're ok"

Aug. 13 2010 10:39 AM
DT from Queens

I wonder what the guest's experience and understanding of the mineral trade in Africa leads him to think about the newly discovered mineral riches in Afghanistan. Is there any reason to believe that Afghanistan will escape the minerals curse? Is there any chance that the wealth that now lies underground will benefit all the people of Afghanistan?

Aug. 13 2010 10:36 AM
troy from Carroll Gardens

I had engagement and wedding rings made for my now wife back in 2002 and made sure to use a jeweler who told me they could specifically order conflict-free diamonds. But, at the time at least, it seemed like there was no sort of certification that they were definitely conflict-free. Is there now?

Aug. 13 2010 10:36 AM
Mike from NYU

I took great care to buy my wife a Canadian diamond when we got engaged. These diamonds are marked with a lazier at the time of extraction. Are African diamonds being marked at all in this way and if not is it possible to do so to track true blood diamonds from the non-conflict ones?

Aug. 13 2010 10:35 AM

What's given a lot less press is the metals/minerals involved in producing computers and cell phones, notably coltan, and that's currently helping to fuel the desperate situation in the Congo. Much more publicity needs to be given to this very inconvienient truth.

Aug. 13 2010 10:34 AM

How is DeBeers able to hold such a monopoly in the diamond market and get away with it. It's known that the hoard diamonds to control supply and manipulate the prices, keeping them artificially high.

Aug. 13 2010 10:33 AM

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