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Facade's avatar

Would you rather purchase a diamond or something made of ivory?

Asked by Facade (22902points) May 3rd, 2011

This question is about ethics. Most diamonds are harvested through slave labour, and people kill elephants for their ivory.

So if you had to choose between the two, and for the purpose of this question you do. Please do not say “neither.” which would you purchase and why?

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42 Answers

KateTheGreat's avatar

Diamonds. I just like diamonds more. Diamonds are pretty and I am not a big fan of ivory.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Ugh. Ivory. Killing an elephant trumps young limbless children. But, I buy man-made diamonds, so if I could choose those, I would.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

People are more important than animals.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Ivory, because I would get it by being on a cull hunt. That is a hunt where animals with undesirable traits are eliminated from an overpopulated area to improve the health of the entire herd.

cazzie's avatar

I can’t be bothered with diamonds, normally. That whole system has been corrupt in the past. What type of ivory? Just elephant? because that stuff is illegal and there’s no way I’d touch the stuff. Now… Mammoth ivory is different. I have a nålbinding needle made of the stuff and it’s one of my prized possessions.

I would never buy ivory because it’s outright illegal, but you can find ethical diamonds, so I guess if I had to choose, I’d say a diamond.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A diamond. When purchasing one, the buyer has a choice of purchasing a conflict-free diamond or not. With ivory, the chance of finding out that the ivory from an elephant, walrus, etc., came from an animal that didn’t die from a natural death is slim to none.

jellyfish3232's avatar

I can’t stand elephants being killed for their ivory. They’re an endangered species, after all.
However, I do hold the value of human life above that of other animals. The thing is, not all diamonds are the result of slave labor. and even if they are, no matter how horrible this may be, it’s probably legal in that country where its happening.

jellyfish3232's avatar

Limbless children? Was that what you meant to say?
Why would the little slave children be limbless?

Brian1946's avatar

I can’t top Pied_Pfeffer’s answer, so I’ll go with this diamond.

mazingerz88's avatar

Diamond ring from Tiffany’s NYC for my soon to be wifey. As long as it’s not a blood diamond.

YoBob's avatar

@cazzie, It is my understanding that not all ivory is outright illegal. One can, for example, purchase an antique billiard ball set made of ivory or an old piano with real ivory keys.

BTW, I had to look up nålbinding. I’ll be adding “learning to nålbind” to my bucket list.

And to answer the question, I would far rather have a nice piece of antique (legal) scrimshaw or, perhaps, a (legally obtained) narwale tusk than a diamond. I’ve never really understood the allure of diamonds.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Brian1946 Thanks friend.

This might be a better answer: Why not purchase purchase one or the other which isn’t new, like at an antiques shop or estate sale?

cazzie's avatar

@YoBob That’s another way to look at buying ivory… and if that’s allowed in this scenario, I’d do that but I thought it had to be ‘fresh’ elephant ivory. I could not, under any circumstances, go to Africa and buy something of ivory and bring it here to Norway. I’d be arrested. There are animal products that you can not trade in, be it from a cull or what have you. Rhino horn, many types of animal skins. I knew a lady from Ghana who loved ‘bush meat’ and tried to bring some back to Norway with her and the entire quantity was taken off her. (that grossed me out… who knows what ‘bush meat’ consists of… ick.)

WestRiverrat's avatar

You can import new ivory into the US if you took it yourself from an approved area with the proper permits and with the aide of a bonded Professional Hunter. It is expensive, and the process of getting the permits can be lengthy. You must get the permits in advance and you are not refunded anything if you fail to collect your trophy.

The money spent for this is mainly used to maintain and enhance the preserves and habitat of the species hunted.

poisonedantidote's avatar


First, I can get them from an ethical jewler (yes, such a thing exists).

Second, they are more valuable to me, as they also have practical applications.

crisw's avatar

In the United States, only ivory from the pre-1970s ban on ivory imports is legal to be sold. Therefore, I’d go with ivory.

KatawaGrey's avatar

This is a very tough question. As others have pointed out, there are both legal and ethical ways to obtain both ivory and diamonds. As the descendant of sailors, I’d have to go with some antique scrimshawed ivory myself. While it was probably not gotten ethically at the time, my purchasing it now won’t increase demand nor will the people who obtained it unethically get my money, assuming they don’t also own the antique shop.

Just a little interesting note: my grandmother actually gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry many years ago. It’s a whale’s tooth on a leather thong. The leather has long since snapped, but I still have the tooth and it is beautiful and she obtained it legally, many years before she actually gave it to me.

atomicmonkey's avatar

I hate elephants, so I would normally say ivory, but how can you be sure that the elephant was hurt enough when harvested and not just painlessly shot by a domain registrar CEO? So seeing as the diamond slave labourers/limbless children are not me, I would have to say diamonds.

Sexy, sexy diamonds.

ragingloli's avatar

Diamonds. That is because we do not care about mere humans.

stardust's avatar

Diamonds – only because I could choose to purchase from an ethical jeweller.
Very tough question @Facade

Ladymia69's avatar

@atomicmonkey I sense a little sarcasm!

jellyfish3232's avatar


Ugh. Quite audacious for the website to feature severed hands in it’s background.

FutureMemory's avatar

@jellyfish3232 Sucks to have reality forced upon you, doesn’t it =/

jellyfish3232's avatar


Yes. it does. (Insert frowning emoticon here)

Mikewlf337's avatar

Ivory. I agree @WestRiverrat I would rather get it from a cull hunt that I participate instead of buying one that came from poaching. I would also donate the meat to feed people in africa. It’s a shame that I wouldn’t be able to bring the meat home with me. What’s for dinner Mike? Elephant steak!!!

atomicmonkey's avatar

@Mikewlf337 Great, now I have a hankering for elephant steak.

SofaKingWright's avatar

Why can’t I have both?

jca's avatar

I would not buy ivory so i would have to answer “diamonds.”

Ladymia69's avatar

Neither! Haha! neitheneitherneitherneither!

bob_'s avatar

Diamonds. They’re shiny, and really, how much of a difference do you think it’d make?

<—not naive

casheroo's avatar

I was going to say diamond but then @crisw has me thinking ivory.

klutzaroo's avatar

There are diamonds that are not procured through slave labor. Plus… I like the rainbows!

everephebe's avatar

@klutzaroo I don’t believe that diamonds produce rainbows of light, I think they produce pure white light.
The diamond is on the right and not the left.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Diamonds. I like @Pied_Pfeffer‘s answer but if I am brutally honest and I know some of you won’t like me for this I often think more about if something is the product of animal cruelty than if it is the product of human cruelty. I would never dream of buying ivory but, if I wasn’t so indifferent to them, I would probably buy a diamond without thinking about how the diamond came to be for sale in my local jewellers!

Ladymia69's avatar

@Leanne1986 Don’t feel bad. I think I value animal life over human. Idealistically, anyway. Actually, I just think that there is no reason why humans should be more important than animals. All the reasons that people have given me were not enough.

gm_pansa1's avatar

Neither. Plus, diamonds are UGLY. :D

abridges2954's avatar

I would buy a diamond. There are a lot of jewelers that sell non-conflict diamonds and they usually advertise that. Plus, they’re a lot prettier and they last longer than ivory.

Ladymia69's avatar

Diamonds are ugly.

anartist's avatar

diamond. diamonds are forever.

anartist's avatar

did you know, in some African countries, Kenya is one I think, park service people are cutting the tusks off living bull elephants for sale? [That just means the elephant dies more painfully, from battles lost and life-assisting tasks unperformed.]

WestRiverrat's avatar

@anartist actually it means the elephants have a chance to live longer as the ivory poachers won’t shoot them to get tusks that are not there.

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