Publisher: Allen & Unwin

When her mother puts on a new pair of diamond earrings, Carolina is curious about where they came from. Her mother’s dismissive response is that they are mined in places such as Africa, prompting Carolina to ask why their maid Amina doesn’t own any diamonds when she also comes from Africa.

What follows is a hard-hitting, visual account of the gems’ journey, from source to customer. Extracted from the solid ground by miners using shovels and pickaxes, the stones are seized by armed men and passed through an extensive, corrupt supply chain, until they end up in exclusive jewellers to be purchased by wealthy customers. The stark injustice of this process is clearly presented in the sombre, often wordless, charcoal images.

This extraordinary picture book for older readers raises awareness of the appalling trade in conflict diamonds and is sure to prompt discussions about human rights and social injustice. Subtle parallels are drawn between the exploitation of the miners and Amina’s role as a domestic servant in the affluent household. The underlying message of this powerful tale is that everyone must take responsibility to ensure they do not contribute – even unknowingly – to the hardships of others.

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