Recent Reads // Blood Diamonds

I’ll take a leaf out of Greg Campbell’s book (pun intended) and open this post with the same Shakespeare quote that opens Blood Diamonds:

Cymbeline: That diamond upon your finger, say
How came it yours?
Iachimo: Thou’lt torture me to leave unspoken that
Which to be spoke would torture thee.
Cymbeline

It can be “tortuous” to have your perceptions disturbed, and that is exactly what this book did for me.

Full disclosure: this post has been in my drafts since January because I couldn’t decide what to write. This book really struck me, but despite the strong urge to explain everything I learned from it I decided to stay true to the “book review” theme and be more on the vague side. Trust me…this was hard to do because what I learned was powerful and disturbing, and I want to shout it from rooftops.

Blood Diamonds is a non-fiction book set in the late 90s in conflict-ridden Sierra Leone, and the story discusses the harsh realities of blood diamonds and a short history of the industry. This isn’t your typical non-fiction book; it is (literally) brutally honest, and reading it honestly changed my opinion on how I’ll shop for precious gems in the future. The thing that especially hit me was how, whether we like it or not, the horrors of the diamond industry affect every single one of us diamond owners…it just comes down to whether or not we want to acknowledge it. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Gripping, honest, and life-changing, this is a book that I will definitely recommend to others for the rest of my life. It made me appreciate how fortunate my life is and how much the choices I make impact others. As a member of the Western world, it is EXTREMELY important that I acknowledge where many of the goods I consume come from and fight to improve the quality of life for those workers. We are privileged enough to expect diamonds for engagement rings/wedding bands/earrings/gifts…we absolutely cannot forget about those that have suffered so we can have pretty things. Sierra Leone is no longer in conflict today, but the book still made me look at the material goods that I take for granted (Forever 21 clothing etc) that come at the hands of poor quality of life for people around the world. It’s up to us, the consumers, to protest and stand up for what’s right…even when it’s easy for us to look in the other direction and just enjoy the nice things in our hands. We drive the market…so we can make a big change. One of the reasons the war in Sierra Leone carried on as it did was that the companies and consumers blissfully ignored the terrible truth about the gems’ origins.

Reading Blood Diamonds changed my life and how I look at the world. It showed me how much I take for granted and how much I impact different industries worldwide. I think anyone and everyone could benefit from reading this book, even if it’s just to learn about a devastating era in recent history. I find that African history is often forgotten and ignored…let’s change that. Read this book and tell people what you learned. We can change more than we think we can.

Note: While diamonds currently in circulation aren’t necessarily blood diamonds, there are still several problems with the industry today. I encourage you to learn more about where your diamonds come from, and I recommend Brilliant Earth for more information on ethical gemstones.