Author: Tristram Barker

You may not realise it but one third of the world’s diamonds come from the Arctic north of Canada. Ian Douglas of The Inspired Collection, who has more than thirty years experience in the jewellery business says that “despite the increased awareness surrounding conflict diamonds, customers are not always sure about where their diamonds have come from. All of the precious materials that we use in our jewellery are certified conflict free and we now also have Canadian diamonds that can be traced directly back to their mine of origin”.

International outcry has forced the diamond trade to more carefully monitor the sources of their diamonds and the way they do business but conflict diamonds haven’t completely gone away: they are easily smuggled through porous African borders and traded in illegitimate deals.  The certification process that ensures a purchased diamond has not been mined in exploitative conditions can come with a prohibitive cost to the distributors and unscrupulous or naïve outfits may misrepresent their diamonds as conflict free.The 2002 international agreement known as the Kimberly Process has done much to limit the supply of inferior and unethically sourced diamonds. Member countries cannot import or export rough diamonds to non-member countries and all diamonds are transported in tamper resistant containers

For centuries diamonds were found only in India and Brazil. The South African mines were not set up until the late eighteen-hundreds. Canadian diamond mines, by contrast, were only discovered in the 1990s in the remote Northwest Territories where winter temperatures average -30 degrees. The Canadian diamond mining industry was set up with rigorous controls in place to ensure traceability of diamonds and that the environment is not unduly harmed. Mining companies abide by the Kimberly Process and must adhere to strict environmental laws that prevent lasting ecological damage resulting from mining. In this way the flora and fauna surrounding the mines, including caribou and grizzly bears are not harmed and are even protected with revenue from the industry. The aboriginal Inuit and Mètis peoples have been represented from the very beginning of operations and the mines have brought prosperity in taxes and jobs to the people of the Northwest Territories many of whom are themselves, the descendents of prospectors.

Canadian diamonds are not the world’s only certified conflict free diamonds but they do provide some of the best.Ian Douglas points out that “The industry cannot rely on consumers to ask the questions. We encourage our customers to ask us any questions around our diamonds and other materials and as retailers we are responsible for keeping our customers informed and increasing awareness.”




Krajick, Kevin. Barren Lands. An epic search for diamonds in the North American Arctic. New York: Times Books, 2001.


Legrand, Jacques (Ed.) Diamonds. Myth, magic and reality. New York: Crown Publishing, 1980.