Thursday, February 22, 2007

" 'blood diamond' takes the sheen off diamonds"








a new hollywood movie,'blood diamond',has raised very tough questions about the mindboggling $60 billion diamond industry.stooped low in knee-deep muddy rivers,thousands of miners search for diamonds in sierra leone,angola,liberia and congo.they belong to an army of one million such african diggers who earn a few pennies a day.and what drives them to work so hard for a tuppence that will just keep their body and soul together? in eastern sierra leone,in the hot sun,they dig.with hope lying eternal in their breasts. if they find a diamond,their lives would change for ever.the young ones will go to school and then the whole family's and perhaps their village's fortunes would change.

how many of us realise when we see these glittering diamonds in the jewellery stores that it comes out of unimaginable toil and under most inhuman conditions. no electricity,no clean water,dirty roads and residents living in shanties.it is a wide chasm between the diamond digger and the ultimate user.many diggers were amputated and many innocents killed by the rebels who funded their mass killing with the illegal sale of diamonds when sierra leone lived in a state of civil war.

koidu is the place where the action is in this stunningly well made bollywood movie.it is two and half hours political-action adventure starring leonardo dicaprio,jennifer connelly and djimon hounsou and directed by edward zwick.a south african amoral gem smuggler,danny archer(leonardo dicaprio),tries to recover a big pinkstone from a local fisherman(djimon hounsou) who has found a diamond stone and hid it while digging in the diamond pits.an american journalist,maddy bowen(jennifer connelly)is doing investigative journalism under un auspices into the problem of conflict diamonds which are stones exported out of war ravaged countries.

the three meet and each has his/her own agenda.danny who is born and brought up in south africa is in deep debt and the only way he can pay it off and live safely is by getting hold of a diamond.solomon vandy living in abject poverty needs it for his son's schooling and improving his finacial state of affairs.his son has been taken away by the rebels and the only way he can see him and his family is through the help of maddy who has the un badge on her.and maddy wants to be where the action is to make her reports as accurate and informative as possible. and in this search for the hidden diamond all the three become interdependent.

leonardo's acting is absolutely fascinating and hounsou's acting is superb.particularly his expressive eyes and body language.the last scene where in a grey suit he enters the hall when he is commended for his courage takes your breath away.jennifer connelly's performance is just about good. massive blood spilling and excruciating violence is shown not in a nauseating manner but in a way that drives home the point that there is so much of bloodletting in the diamond industry of which all of us should know.as a friend of mine said,blood spilling diamonds and diamonds spilling blood.we should be aware of this fact and that the international community should work towards bringing peace in these war-torn countries and ensure that they improve their standard of living and that they do not get exploited by diamond traders and others.this brilliant movie has garnered five academy award nominations and we will know the outcome this saturday.

'blood diamond' has created ripples in the diamond trade in india and has rattled the african diamond states.the publicity preceding the release of the film has had an adverse effect on diamond exports.the book titled "the heartless stone",king of rhyme kayne west's "diamonds from sierra leone" and the vh1 documentary "bling" have all been significantly covered by the media in the run-up to the movie.the de beers group,the world's largest diamond trader, has criticised the movie.they claim that such conflict diamonds are now a miniscule part of organised diamond trading.

40% of india's diamond exports are to usa.the industry claims that more than 99% of diamonds are now from "conflict free sources" and out of diamond revenues thousands of african children go to school and people get health care benefits.on the other hand,the activists who have got a shot in the arm are vigorously campaigning for un intervention and to stop the illegal smuggling of blood diamonds.in the midst of all this acrimonious debate a new generation of high-quality diamonds is shaking up the jewellery world.

while the controversy is raging,for jewel lovers alternatives are now available in the market.cubic zirconia stones which are priced at $10-$25 a carat and lab produced diamonds which have colour and clarity matching and is some cases exceeding the quality of original diamonds.and these are available in the range of $2000-$7000 a carat against the $10,000-$100,000 a carat range of natural diamonds.diamonds which enjoyed star status seem to be falling to the ground.the signs are ominous.what happened to naturally occurring perals could happen to diamonds as well.cultured pearl destroyed the natural pearl industry.cultured pearls now constitute about 95% of all pearls sold globally.the same could happen to natural diamonds.

actor terrence howard wants to make a statement.he plans to wear a custom-designed pin with several "flawless" lab produced colourless diamonds when he appears on stage as a compere for the academy awards this saturday."consumers can be sure that nobody was harmed in the process of making them" says howard. another buyer of lab made diamond says that he is "driven by heightened awareness of blood diamonds and the cartel-like grip of de beers on diamond pricing".and he says the diamonds are "absolutely gorgeous".his wife was so happy when she got this present that she burst out singing "twinkle twinkle little star,how i wonder what you are;up above the sky so high like a diamond in the sky"

gem traders in mumbai are sanguine that demand will pickup and prices will rise.after all diamonds are put through the kimberley certification process to make sure that it is from a conflict-free zone.so,buy with a clear conscience they say,your much desired "solitaire"."this is the best time".

though corruption,poverty and unemployment are the main reasons for the war and peace has come now,there is no guarantee that another war may not start.the industry,the un and others are trying to bring sanity in the whole trade.though a billion dollar worth of diamonds have come out of sieera leone,the prosperity which should have beeen there continues to remain a mirage.a story in the making for "blood diamond-2".

7 comments:

rums said...

i haven't been able to watch the film yet, have been pretty busy. i believe it's really good.
uncle i watched 'syriana' yesterday and the same goes for oil, and perhaps so many other things that we consume. i guess as world trade becomes more complex these things are bound to happen. see how the chinese have been investing in troublesome african countries, enriching the dictators. No one has the guts to speak up against them.

gs said...

hello rums
i fully agree with you,i recently read that the chinese are exploiting the african states.and the pockets of dictators are swelling. what a pity!
was'syriana' shown on some special occasion? i have not heard about this movie before.thanks for your comments and look forward to more of them.

rums said...

No uncle i was watching the film at home. it has george clooney, matt damon, amanda peet, you must watch the film. the message it sends out is powerful.

gs said...

rums:
thanks for your suggestion.i will try to get hold of a dvd this weekend.

rupag said...

Hello GS,

Diamonds have NEVER really been "conflict of some sort of free"!

The Cartel that controls a major chunk of the diamond industry are the De Beers and this company is known to (twist the arms and get them to there knees) of anyone that finds/locate a new source for rough diamonds, i.e the finds in Canada in the early nineties, then the Argyle mines in Australia....more details for another story some day!

But I think that the lure for diamonds will never fade, however the great alternatives are Moissanite, an offshoot of Swarovski, and then there is the HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) which mimics the way a natural diamond is formed and use the same ingredients ~ carbon/heat/pressure and creates beautiful diamonds...that are virtually non detecable excepting for a specialized test as they really are diamonds!

Diamonds will take cultured pearl route and eventually everyone will have solitaires the size of goose eggs...and that to in every shade from canary yellow to pink to the hallowed blue jagger..that every maami at Vummudi Bangaaru asks for innocently while looking for a yayuu kaalu thodu!

gs said...

hello rupag
you are dead right about de beers.i have known them in some way and am aware of their ruthlessness and marketing grip. the cheaper diamond alternatives will soon catch up. but then,diamonds are diamonds and will remain so for ever.

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