Canadian Diamonds – Yay or Nay?
Ever since Canada began mining diamonds in the 1990s and the movie Blood Diamond came out in 2006, there’s been a lot of talk about the importance of Canadian diamonds. Jewelers are quick to promote the value of the gems, to highlight their ethical standards and to even say that they are some of the most brilliant and clear diamonds in the world. But are they really worth it?
First, let’s address the cost issue. Yes, Canadian diamonds will cost you more. How much more is, of course, dependent on the quality of the stone you’re choosing and where you’re getting them from, so you really have to do your research and compare diamonds of similar characteristics to know for sure.
There is a real reason for the cost difference, too. Mining diamonds in the Canadian north is treacherous and challenging. With temperatures well below freezing (like even -45 Celsius!), it’s incredibly difficult to mine and it requires specialized equipment, machinery and tools. It also makes getting to the region problematic, as workers face icy and harsh traveling conditions to remote areas where there aren’t even proper roads. There also aren’t any towns or cities around there, so they have to build housing and special facilities for employees. This also leads to increased wages and benefit pay to workers, who often work in shifts of several weeks at a time, adding to the operational costs of mining diamonds in Canada. And finally, the costs of Canada’s stringent certification process, tariffs and taxes are significant and each step of the process must be documented for authenticity and transparency.
But in terms of actual value and if Canadian diamonds are worth the price, you might be disappointed to know that it’s actually a matter of personal opinion.
In terms of quality, Canadian diamonds are no “better” than diamonds from anywhere else in the world. And with a lot of the conflict in certain regions where diamonds are mined now over, worrying about “blood” diamonds is not so much of an issue anymore and there are now strict international trade laws in place governing that diamonds only come from legitimate sources.
So why would you choose Canadian diamonds over others? It pretty much comes down to if you are a believer of buying local and supporting sustainable development.
The creation of the diamond mining industry in Canada’s north has definitely provided a positive economic impact on local communities. Aboriginal people make up about 40% of Canadian diamond mine workers, enabling them to provide for their families and themselves through fair labour jobs. It’s also led to infrastructure development for these communities – DeBeers claims that its new Gahcho Kué mine created a $6.7 billion investment into Canada. DeBeers also pledged to invest more than $20 million to explore mineral-rich areas in Canada’s north.
Canada also has very strict rules governing the mining of diamonds, ensuring it meets the highest environmental standards. Companies must assess everything from the air to water quality, to wildlife and plant life in the region and they must calculate their environmental impact prior to beginning any work in the area. Companies must agree to follow the Government of Canada’s stringent laws and to ensure diamonds are being mined according to the principles of sustainable development.
So you may be of the mindset that these are reasons enough to buy Canadian diamonds, regardless of the price difference. That’s certainly a fair and respectable position.
I would also suggest that another measurement of diamond quality is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA is a non-profit, public group that provides unbiased gem grading and analysis. It was actually the GIA who first created the 4Cs of diamonds (clarity, cut, colour and carat) and who developed the International Diamond Grading System. Any diamond listed as a certified diamond by the GIA is guaranteed to meet the highest quality.
Whatever you end up choosing or whatever your personal beliefs, it’s essential to take the time to do the research first and to really explore all your options. It’s important to visit different jewelers and really talk to them, ask them questions and make sure that you trust the one you choose. Ultimately, that’s the only choice that will make a difference as to how you feel about the value of your special purchase.