HOUSTON, Texas — The movie “Blood Diamond” opened last week, shocking holiday shoppers with explicit violence. Set amidst chaos and civil war in 1990s Africa, it will raise questions about diamonds being purchased this holiday season. One Texas company has answers. Whiteflash.com, an Internet boutique specializing in top quality diamonds, has established a program called Dreams of Africa (dreamsofafrica.org), where 100 percent of the profit from sales of a conflict-free line of jewelry is going to help victims of conflict diamonds.
Unlike other retailers who stop at conflict-free, Whiteflash seeks to address the real problem, the people suffering in Africa. Co-Founder Brian Gavin, born and raised in South Africa, says a boycott of diamonds as suggested by some would hurt, not help, the African people: “These people are among the world’s poorest. Diamonds are vital to their economic stability. We must stop the exploitation by those in charge, not boycott innocent people into further poverty.”
Gavin reacted angrily when told Leonardo DiCaprio once said that he would not let any date of his wear diamonds. “With respect to Mr. DiCaprio; he acted it, I lived it and that’s the wrong message,” Gavin said. DiCaprio later recanted the statement, saying consumers should verify that diamonds they are purchasing are conflict-free. Gavin agrees, but says it is not enough: “Buying conflict-free protects consumers,” he says, “but it doesn’t stop the pain of those still suffering. Jewelry companies and consumers can’t change governments or politics, but we can turn diamonds into a gift for life.”
Whiteflash CEO Debi Wexler introduced the Dreams of Africa program to such luminaries as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in September at the largest-ever gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners on American soil. Betty Williams’ charity, the “World Centers of Compassion for Children International” was selected as the Whiteflash Dreams of Africa charity partner.
Though dramatically reduced in recent years, hot spots of conflict and suffering remain in Africa. Whiteflash initiated the Dreams of Africa program as a way for shoppers to be proactive. You can visit the website at http://www.dreamsofafrica.org. Brian Gavin’s comments can be seen at http://www.dreamsofafrica.org/blog.
[tags]Whiteflash Diamonds, Dreams of Africa program, conlfict free diamonds, Brian Gavin blog[/tags]