Diamond Matters
Kadir van Lohuizen

Mirroring the progress of the diamond from the mines of Africa to the world of fashion, Diamond matters records the lifespan of the world`s most precious stone. Starting with the mineworkers–many just children–photographer Kadir van Lohuizen tracks the sparkling ice on its socially upward journey. With interviews from the industry, from those digging it from hillsides with bare hands and picks to dealers to wearers of gems, it is a beautiful yet deeply disturbing and thought-provoking book. Van Lohuizen covered the 1990s fighting in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Sierra Leone, and Angola, conflicts dismissed as tribal wars or the final convulsions of the Cold War. By degrees these conflicts turned into struggles over diamond deposits, largely controlled by the Angolan and Sierra Leonean rebels, which were used to buy weapons. Governments then became players, and the terms "blood diamond" and "conflict diamond" were born. In time, pressure grew to create a certification system guaranteeing that only conflict-free diamonds came on the market. Worried by the threat to its image, the diamond industry bowed to publ ic opinion and negotiated with the various regulatory authorities. In 2002, the Kimberley Agreement, signed by a large number of the exporting and importing countries, reduced smuggling and added more transparency. Today these countries are mostly at peace, and officially rebel movements no longer play a role in diamond exploitation. Yet working conditions in these same countries remain appalling and little of the enormous profits flow back to the people. A fair trade agreement with profits for diamonds shared by all in the industry and workers` rights protected is needed, Van Lohuizen concludes. Bound in luxurious suede, and with a small diamond on the front cover, elegantly printed in tritone on 3 different papers (from rough to glossy, mirroring the evolution of raw diamonds to their apogee as Bond Street tiaras) Diamond Matters is an explosive idea in a bejewelled package.