An icy reception for film
The diamond industry has gone on the offensive, trying to polish its image during its most important season to counter the negative publicity of "Blood Diamond," which opens Friday.
The film depicts the violent diamond trade in Sierra Leone in the early 1990s, when rebel groups would smuggle the stones out of the country to fund weapons during civil war.
Diamond dealers and trade groups have responded with a campaign to inform shoppers about what the industry has done to clean up the diamond business.
They say that since the events depicted in the film took place, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme instituted standards that diamonds and dealers must go through when importing or exporting in participating countries. The World Diamond Council trade group says the process, supported by diamond-rich countries in Africa as well as the United Nations, has cut the number of blood diamonds from 3 percent to less than 1 percent of all diamonds sold today.
"What they're talking about did take place, but only in certain parts of the world -- in Western and Central Africa -- in the 1990s," said Ronnie Mervis of Mervis Diamond Importers, who yesterday began airing radio commercials guaranteeing that his products are not blood diamonds. "The real diamond supply and flow is in South Africa. It's [thousands of] miles away, and it has nothing to do with the diamonds from South Africa."