The impact of “blood diamonds” vs. ethical practices

By Heather Wuelpern

There is nothing like the flash that catches your eye when light hits a diamond. That beautiful glint has more than just a reflection behind it though. In fact, there are many factors that go into sourcing, selecting, cutting, and setting diamonds. To help simplify the ins and outs of diamonds, we reached out to the local diamond experts at The Diamond Store Tucson—Birko Roland and Timothy Sauls—to share their wealth of information with you. 

This six-part series will publish biweekly on Sundays and will cover sourcing, the dos and don’ts of purchasing, lab-grown diamonds, ideas beyond engagement rings, economics, and trends. 

You may remember the 2006 movie “Blood Diamonds” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, and Djimon Hounsou set during the Sierra Leone Civil War of 1991-2002. It depicted the unethical practices, the abuse of human rights, and the loss of life associated with diamonds when mined in war zones which were often used to fund warlords and terrorist organizations. DiCaprio’s character, Danny Archer, summed up the severity of when diamonds are mined inhumanely with the line, “In America, it’s bling bling. But out here, it’s bling bang.”

Fortunately, government organizations and the diamond industry established the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in 2003 to prevent the trade of these “conflict” diamonds. This international certification system gives consumers confidence that the diamonds they buy are ethically sourced from conflict-free areas and have not contributed to atrocities of human rights and violence. In addition to the KPCS, the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) also help to promote responsibly sourced diamonds as well as ethical practices throughout the diamond supply chain. 

Lucky for us Tucsonans, The Diamond Store in Tucson (next to the Trader Joe’s on Campbell just south of River) not only ethically sources the diamonds sold but also buys directly from the source and does not use a middleman. 

Meet Birko Roland, Tucson’s (and Las Vegas’s) diamond expert. Roland’s passion for his work shines as brightly as the most magnificent diamond he sells. In fact, he nearly welled up when he gushed about how honored he feels to have the “opportunity to be a part of the most important moment of their lives,” when he was asked what it is like to help customers who visit his store to purchase an engagement ring. He also shared how he selected Tucson, Arizona, for his first Diamond Store—Las Vegas being the second location—because he feels “Tucson has the size that is big enough to become a diamond powerhouse and that it will grow as more businesses come here.” 

Roland was born in Germany but spent many of his early years in Israel where he met his mentor David Arabov—a top-ten diamond distributor in the world at that time. Arabov opened the door to the diamond industry to Roland where Roland learned everything about rough diamonds, cutting, polishing, certification, and wholesaling. 

In 2009, Roland traveled to the United States to open stores for Arabov’s family business, Diamonds Direct, in Charlotte, Birmingham, Richmond, and Austin. In 2013, Roland started a side project with Doron Arabov, one of David Arabov’s sons, called Global Diamonds in Jacksonville and Salt Lake City, which was America’s fastest-growing jewelry store in 2016. Later, in 2019, Roland opened Sky Diamonds as another side project before he opened the Diamond Store in 2021 with his best friend, Timothy Sauls, where they continued to source diamonds from the rough all the way to the finger without a middleman which significantly increases their buying power. Roland continues to go to Israel twice a year to handpick the rough diamonds from people he trusts. He also sources his diamonds directly from Russia and Siberia where he never uses a wholesaler. Therefore, he passes those savings on to his customers. 

Moreover, Roland and Sauls are experts when it comes to diamonds. They want to share their knowledge and passion with their customers. The bounty of diamonds on display at The Diamond Store are ethically sourced, handpicked, and simply stunning. 

Now that you have learned the history and regulations associated with blood diamonds and how to find the source of the diamonds you purchase from now on, come back a week from next Sunday for the second part of this six-part series. You will learn the dos and don’ts of buying diamonds, including the four C’s, pricing information, and more.

About The Diamond Store

As one of America’s leading importers of natural and lab created diamonds with operations throughout the nation, The Diamond Store is revolutionizing the way you buy loose diamonds and fine jewelry. Our carefully selected team of diamond specialists are dedicated to providing detailed education and expert guidance along with the largest selection of loose diamonds with unrivaled value in the West. At The Diamond Store, your needs are truly our priority. We always aim for the sky to provide you with an experience of prestige and excellence. The Diamond Store, the store that will forever change how Tucson buys diamonds and fine jewelry.

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