When someone chooses to donate their diamond engagement ring to TRP, it is appraised independently, TRP certified* and then transferred to D&H Jewelers in San Francisco, California. TRP receives the wholesale value of the gold band immediately, and once the diamond has been re-set and sold under its new certification, TRP receives the wholesale value of the gem. That money is then directed to initiatives in the DRC developed by Congolese civil society and in conjunction with TRP.
These initiatives include building a law certificate degree to aid female litigators in prosecuting crimes of sexual abuse, and supporting female rangers in Virunga National Park. We are currently preparing for a trip to the North and South Kivu Provinces in the DRC in Febraury to collaborate with various local organizations. If you're interested in why we are collaborating with civil society and not Congolese governmental initiatives or existing international aid programs, see our explanation at the bottom of this page. We won't say too much yet, but we can't wait to share more about who we are working with once we return.
These rings have all been generously donated to TRP.
These rings have all been generously donated to TRP. Send us an email if you're interested - firstname.lastname@example.org
After the dissolution of her 20 year marriage, Marirose Piciucco's diamond engagement ring, which once represented hope and promise, lost all meaning. Rather than allow the significance of this ring to die, she wanted to pass on that promise and commitment to other women. By donating her ring to fund civil society initiatives the DRC, Marirose not only hopes to help women in the DRC but also complete her healing process and finally close the door on a significant and painful chapter in her life.
Meanwhile, Amanda Robinson was traveling through Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone conducting research on how the dealing of "conflict diamonds" affected economic development in the region. She had been vehemently anti-diamond and certainly opposed the conflict diamond trade - a topic which, it turns out, she knew relatively little about. Her education really began when she spent time with illegal diamond dealers. She began to follow natural resource extraction through South Africa and Angola, and quickly realized things were much more complicated than she could have ever imagined.
Among many other natural resources including tantalite (commonly known as coltan), which is used in many of our electronic devices, copper, gold and oil, the DRC has a substantial natural supply of diamonds. Although many diamonds in the area have been illegally extracted for the benefit of foreign corporations, the resource is still a source of hope for Congo's struggling economy, if only the profits could benefit the people of Congo instead of corrupt politicians and corporations. The Ring Project is committed to putting profit from stones back where it belongs - in the hands of the Congolese people.
It's important to note that we accept all types of rings and stones. They don't need to be diamonds. Diamonds are a great face for TRP because they represent the important aspects of our mission statement. They get us talking, they carry significance in many cultures within the U.S., and more importantly, they encourage us to learn more about where they come from and how they affect lives around the world.
The real question is, why not the Congo? Here's the deal.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has faced ongoing violence of a particular nature since independence in 1960, after arguably one of the worst colonial rules in history (some estimates put the death toll at 10 million through King Leopold's rule alone). Plagued by the US-backed assassination of the first democratically elected leader Patrice Lumumba, two subsequent civil wars and over five million conflict related deaths since 1998, the humanitarian state in Congo has become one of the worst of our time - and perhaps one of the least understood. Though the international community has been highly integrated in the response to the violence, it has also, at times, been responsible for its maintenance and perpetuation. US foreign policy towards the DRC and Rwanda has caused immeasurable damage and loss of Congolese life, British companies have undermined Congolese laws to profit off the mineral resources, and the enormous Western aid packages have proved to be largely ineffective and damaging.
What seems clear is the fact that the DRC doesn't need another international NGO setting up shop. Populated areas in the Kivus have been highly impacted by aid organizations, with many locals unable to afford housing or food as a result. This is precisely why TRP wants to support local Congolese initiatives. They know best. But we're in a position to bring awareness and to funnel money to the right places, so we feel good about doing that. And we'd love your help.