Student Opinion: Why You Should Care About Diamonds at the Grammys

By: Mia Baltierra

LAS VEGAS — On April 2, 2022, Las Vegas pulled out all the stops for the event millions of people at home would turn on their TVs to watch — the 64th annual Grammy Awards. The red carpet had all the usual glitz and glamor – celebrities in jaw-dropping suits and dresses and the press asking “what are you wearing?” It’s not the clothes that people should be looking at, it’s the jewelry. Whether it’s Doja Cat, Lil Nas X or Halsey, almost everyone strutting the red carpet wore diamonds. To understand why we should pay attention to these jewels, it is important to know their long history.

The jewelry industry has a long history of mistreating its workers and profiting from poor communities in low-income countries without giving much in return. You may have heard the term “blood diamonds” before. A specific example is De Beers, which was founded in 1888 and has a history of profiting from African slave labor and politics. conflict. More recently, in 2006, the public called for a boycott of De Beers diamonds because of the company forcing indigenous peoples to Botswana to leave after the discovery of diamonds in their country. Celebrities joined the cause and pledged not to bring diamonds from Botswana until conditions improved. Since then, De Beers has announced that its product is 100% ethically sourced.

It is relatively recently that the industry has taken a stand against unethical diamond mining. In 2003, the Kimberley Process was created by the diamond industry to combat practices that harm both the environment and the people who mine the gemstones. This system ensures that the diamonds are “conflict-free” and do not come from war-controlled forces and areas with unfair labor practices. This was a major step in the right direction, but it is also the public’s responsibility to ensure that those who influence others set a good example by wearing only ethically sourced diamonds.

Now you might be wondering why the majority of people – those who can’t afford expensive jewelry – should care about the diamonds that celebrities wear? As viewers, we can have as much influence on celebrities as they do on us and the big companies whose jewelry they wear. We’ve seen celebrity power wielded for good before, like Billie Eilish pushing Oscar de la Renta to be without fur. If we push celebrities to ask more of the companies they represent, then real change could be seen.

Currently, most diamonds sold worldwide are conflict-free traceable. However, it is up to us to ensure that this is so. It’s not enough for us to find that celebrity accessories are pretty. We must also pay attention to their origin and fight for workers’ rights.

In the entertainment industry in particular, jewelry is important and at an event like the Grammys, all eyes are on what celebrities are wearing from head to toe, including the shiny jewels. Celebrities have worn diamonds at the Grammys for years, but this year things were different. More and more celebrities were seen (and later posted on social media) wearing ethically sourced diamonds. Halsey was seen wearing diamonds provided by Tiffany & co. at this year’s Grammys, a company that is committed to selling only ethically sourced products jewelry. I believe this change is due to increased pressure from celebrities and the public, and that only continued pressure will keep the diamond market conflict-free.

Only natural diamonds covered with many celebrities wearing ethical diamonds. It is important that these actions be recognized and we as the public should continue to educate ourselves about the history of the jewelry industry and hold celebrities accountable for the diamonds they promote. We should care about the implications of creating better working conditions and positive environmental impacts, whether we are interested in celebrity culture or not.

Sarah C. Figueiredo