In the 1990s, when the De Beers’ monopoly was still going strong, critics of De Beers, especially Edward Jay Epstein, claimed that De Beers was artificially inflating diamonds and creating a myth that diamonds are rare through controlling the supply chain and clever advertising.
Nowadays, the De Beers monopoly has albeit vanished, with miners like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton reducing De Beers’ market share to a mere 40%. In fact, 20 years ago Canada produced no diamonds, and now it is the third largest (by value) diamond producer in the world.
As with any natural resource, diamonds are scarce. Much like the talk of “peak oil”, diamond mines are being exhausted and alluvial diamonds are very rare – the film talks about strapping tin cans to natives’ necks to collect diamonds – nowadays miners have to move lakes and construct dams to mine diamonds.