Heart of Brightness: Diamonds Technology and Desire

Francesco Oliviero Caccioni & Stefan Kiessling

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis provides an overview about Sierra Leone’s artisanal diamond value chain. We will evaluate the country’s implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the current global governance framework for the trading of diamonds. We will proceed with an analysis of the artisanal diamond sector in Sierra Leone, especially the legal framework that is governing the chain, the different actors that are involved in it, and the various ways in which these are connected. Next, we will explore the value composition of diamonds. For this, we will compare the composition and usage of synthetic and natural diamonds. We will argue that the value of diamonds cannot be explained with traditional economic theory and is, ultimately, driven to a considerable part by fantasy. In a next step, we will argue that this ability to generate fantasies is also driving the various actors in the value chain and is influencing the way they construct their social life-worlds. Following this, we will put forward the thesis that transparency, in its current usage, is a fantasy constructed as a ‘fix’ to the inherent limitations of the current governance framework, the Kimberley Process. We will show that much of the current discourse about technology in the sector is inspired by an idea of transparency as traceability. Finally, we will conclude this thesis with our own proposal for a technical intervention that goes beyond the current paradigm of transparency as traceability. For this, we will evaluate blockchain technology. We will give a conceptual overview of the technology, from its beginning to its potential as a general-purpose, decentralized consensus mechanism. We will end with a proposal on how it may be used in the specific case of artisanal diamond mining in Sierra Leone.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages117
SupervisorsOle Bjerg