It has been a really long time since the wonderful Marilyn Monroe assured us that 'diamonds are a girl's best friend' but the notion had always been fairly vague to me. Obviously I could appreciate the fact that those beautiful and expensive gems were examples of incomparable beauty but I had never delved deeper into the concept of pure diamonds until me and a handful of other eager-to-learn bloggers attended a masterclass with CEO of Diamond Manufacturers, Vashi Dominguez. Clad with my Fujifilm X10, I was ready to learn about all things diamond.
As well as finally understanding the importance of the 'Four C's, cut, clarity, carat and colour, I was also taught how to properly inspect a diamond, noticing flaws, blemishes and imperfections. I surprised myself at how accessible the skill can be but I think the hardest part of the process was getting over my fear of not being overly delicate with the diamonds when picking them up with the prongs.
However, I didn't stop there. I suddenly became very interested in the trade's history and much-debated ethics.
Every year the diamond supply chain produces nearly 30 million carats (that's 6,000 kgs!) of gem diamonds and another 100 million carats (20,000 kg!) of diamonds for industrial use.
I was surprised to find out that the price of diamonds goes through many different stages. The initial value of rough diamonds at the mines is relatively low. Diamonds are then cut and polished, up goes the price. Then they are bought to be made into jewellery and by the time diamonds are available to us in retail, the prices have skyrocketed.
Of course the roughest link of the trade can not be ignored. So much has been said about the ways diamonds are collected. Kanye West has rapped about the greed and violence of it all, Leonardo DiCaprio has been in a movie about it and the debate goes on about 'blood' or 'conflict' diamonds as they are largely known.
Some of the world's poorest countries like Sierra Leone, the DR Congo and Angola, have paid the price of their diamond supplies. Especially in West Africa, about 3.7 million people have died in the diamond conflicts and millions of others have been left without homes. Working in mines is difficult and dangerous and bogus diamond deals have often resulted in relentless crossfire that have cost people their lives.
But that's where I was pleasantly surprised. Diamond Manufacturers have completely won me over with their ethical policy of assuring conflict free diamonds. Not just that, but they cut out the middle man, leaving their customers with the best value for money possible. After all, it cannot be denied that holding a piece of diamond jewellery is like holding eternal beauty in your hands.
All in all it was such a wonderfully insightful morning which turned into delightful conversation about how Vashi got into the diamond trade. We talked about how investment worthy these beautiful rocks are and the scary notion that diamonds will probably only be mined for another 11 years before running out. If there was ever a reason to invest in one, I think it would be that, no? For more information about Diamond Manufacturers visit their website here, http://www.diamondmanufacturers.co.uk.