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Martin Rapaport Letter to Leonardo DiCaprio

Apr 5, 2016 12:06 PM   By Martin Rapaport
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Dear Mr. DiCaprio,

Your efforts to sell synthetic diamonds as an ethical substitute for natural diamonds threatens the lives and livelihood of millions of artisanal diggers in Africa. One and a half million diggers support an additional seven million people by digging for diamonds. These diggers are among the poorest people in the world, earning as little as one dollar per day. Their primary daily concern is getting food to feed their children. Things are so bad that in places like Sierra Leone, the child mortality rate is the fourth highest in the world; 12 percent of children die before the age of five.

Instead of using your fame and fortune to help these diamond diggers and their families, you and your company are falsely claiming that it is more ethical to buy your synthetic diamonds than their natural diamonds. You are literally taking bread out of the mouths of the poorest people on earth. And you are calling it ethical. That is super wrong.

Mr. DiCaprio — what will happen to the millions of poor diggers and their families if you succeed in convincing a new generation of Millennial diamond consumers that it is more ethical to buy your synthetic diamonds than their natural diamonds? Will you feed these people? Will you provide them with an alternate livelihood? Are you willing to take personal ethical responsibility for the suffering you will cause?

Dear Mr. DiCaprio, I plead with you to take two urgent actions. 1) Stop promoting your synthetic diamonds as a more ethical product than legitimate natural diamonds. 2) Use your fame and fortune to help us and others promote fair trade diamonds and jewelry that will ensure good living and environmental conditions while paying artisanal diggers fair prices that lift them out of poverty.

You can and should play an important role in promoting ethical consumerism and an ethical diamond trade. The real issue before us is not diamonds, it’s people like the diggers in Sierra Leone and how we can use diamonds to help them. I urge you to contact me and follow up with a discussion about how we and others can create a more ethical diamond and jewelry trade that will significantly improve the lives of millions of artisanal diggers.


Yours truly,
Martin Rapaport
Chairman, RAPAPORT
martin@diamonds.net

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