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Letter

Re: Blood Diamonds: Still Bloody

Brilliant Earth, June 20, 2010

We are seeing a steadily growing tide of discontent with the Kimberley Process.

Thousands of consumers have voiced their frustration with the Kimberley Process, saying they have little faith that the international certification scheme can effectively keep blood diamonds off global markets.

Blogs and social network sites have fueled signatures for an online petition in recent weeks, as news spread that the Kimberley Process is likely to certify diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange region, despite evidence of mass murders, forced labor, political oppression and human rights abuses associated with their mining.

"Consumers are outraged that the Kimberley Process is not protecting the basic human rights or dignity of diamond miners. They find the 'conflict-free' certification to be misleading, and are appalled that nothing is being done to change the situation in Zimbabwe," said Beth Gerstein, the founder of Brilliant Earth, a national jeweler that sponsored the petition in response to consumer requests for a platform to voice their concerns.

The growing lack of faith expressed by consumers and industry insiders adds to the frustrations detailed by human rights advocates and even the Kimberley Process' original architects.

"We are seeing a steadily growing tide of discontent with the Kimberley Process. Zimbabwe will be the final nail in the coffin for the Kimberley Process if they don't take action next week. We'll be back where we were seven years ago, when the world associated diamonds with war and oppression," said Gerstein.

The Kimberley Process will be meeting in Tel Aviv June 21-23. The major focus of the meeting will be Zimbabwe, and the recommendation from monitor Abbey Chikane to approve certification of the contested diamonds. Zimbabwe was given a one-year deadline to guarantee compliance with the Kimberley Process in September 2009.

Brilliant Earth is a leading American jeweler motivated by consumer demand for a more ethical diamond industry. Beth Gerstein is available for interviews.

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