More than a decade ago, the illicit diamond trade was among the most urgent of humanitarian causes, with governments and celebrities rallying around efforts to curtail their role in the world's jewelry supply.
The issue has largely faded from the spotlight in recent years, and wars that fueled the worst of the abuses across the African continent have mostly subsided. Yet some experts argue the battle is far from won, even in light of a range of initiatives designed to curtail the flow of stones moving into the $81 billion market, some of which come from regions still roiled by conflict.
Less than 20 years ago, human rights advocates hailed the Kimberley Process, where dozens of countries agreed to impose stiff requirements on diamond certification to ensure they were "conflict free," and prevent such stones from entering the pool of legitimate diamonds.
Today, the overwhelming majority of the world's diamond supply comes from stable countries. However, experts warn that in a handful countries torn by civil strife like Liberia and Sierra Leone, the illicit minerals trade is alive and well — and funding the activities of violent dueling factions.
In a 2015 study, the Enough Project said the main armed groups in the Central African Republic reap anywhere between $3 million and $6 million annually from blood diamonds that funds war operations.
Alice Harle, an expert on minerals from the nonprofit organization Global Witness, told CNBC recently that the "conflict diamond problem has not gone away. ... Companies sourcing diamonds originating in countries like Central African Republic and Zimbabwe may risk indirectly supporting violence," she said via email.