Blood Diamonds

Diamonds are forever. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds also fuel a $9 billion industry annually. These precious stones are used as symbols of status, affection, or unending love. However, I recently saw diamonds in a new light: as frivolous pieces of rock that are not worth all of the trouble that sometimes surrounds them. Beautiful yes, but in the end just a piece of earth.
What precipitated this change of perspective was the fact that I had just watched Blood Diamond. The 2006 film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, centers around the 1999 civil war in Sierra Leone and the issue of conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds, essentially, are diamonds that are mined in war zones in Africa and sold to finance the conflicts and line the pockets of the warlords. DiCaprio’s character is a smuggler, and in one of the early scenes in the movie, he is attempting to sneak across a border without the diamonds in his possession being detected. The border guards stop him and search his little party, which includes a small flock of sheep. One of the guards proceeds to search the sheep and slices into the back of one of the sheep’s neck, revealing dozens of small, bloody diamonds. There is a camera shot of the guard holding the discolored stones, all of which fit into the palm of his hand, and it was then that my perspective changed. Why do we place so much value on those stones? In that scene, they more resembled discolored pieces of kitty litter than precious gems. Granted, they were uncut and covered in blood, but it was a stark reminder that diamonds were really just rocks.

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