Blood diamonds, sometimes called conflict diamonds, are stones mined in areas of the world undergoing civil war or strife and sold to support warlords, insurgents or invading armies. Since diamonds are extremely valuable and portable, trading these stones is an easy way for forces to generate quick money.
Some areas where conflict diamonds have become problematic since the late 20th century include Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Zimbabwe and the Republic of the Congo. During their civil wars or local conflicts, these countries sold large numbers of diamonds to fund their activities, often falsifying certificates of origin to make the stones appear to come from elsewhere. For instance, the Republic of the Congo fell under heavy scrutiny in 2004 for exporting diamonds in bulk while having no appreciable domestic diamond industry.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is designed to weed out conflict diamonds and ensure that the diamonds on the international market come from sources that do not promote warfare, genocide and human misery. Unfortunately, the diamond industry has found many ways around this certification process, making it difficult to verify whether any given stone comes from a conflict-free source. Ethical jewelers and mineral traders make an effort to trace their stones back to the point of origin to ensure the integrity of their supply.