Duchess Kate’s Expensive Jewelry Funding Taliban?

Amid rumors of a third pregnancy, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, is facing a potentially big new controversy. The trouble is a lot more serious than recent “criticism of her slack public appearance schedule.”

According to the Daily Mail, Kate’s “expensive taste” in jewelry could be putting dollars right into the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Duchess of Cambridge, along with many other celebrities, has contributed to a fast-rising popularity of an ancient gemstone. Duchess Kate made a big splash in extra-large lapis lazuli earrings to match an incredible blue dress she wore to a Bollywood event with her husband, Prince William, while the two were on an official visit to India.

Although Kate usually wears sapphires when she’s indulging her “love of blue gemstones,” the Duchess decided that lapis was better suited to her flamboyant dress and environment. Unfortunately, that choice catapulted her into a troublesome place in the middle of conflict mineral worries.

Duchess Kate isn’t the only celebrity who loves lapis. Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, superstar singer Rihanna, and Blake Lively all have a penchant for lapis lazuli, a brilliant blue gem that has a 6,500-year history as a precious adornment for the wealthy. Lapis lazuli has always been a popular stone, and it even made an appearance on the funeral mask of King Tutankhamen himself. As well as its stunning beauty, the Duchess’ favorite gemstone is believed by many to be an aid in the search for truth and enlightenment. It’s so sad that such a beautiful stone has to be used for a terrible purpose, but it looks like lapis is no longer an ethical jewelry choice.

Recently, an advocacy group dedicated to exposing “links between natural resources and armed conflict” released a report showing that lapis lazuli is an aid to something very different from truth and enlightenment. The international mineral watchdog Global Witness just completed a two-year study of the link between lapis and its ties to terrorism. The final report from the study, “War in the Treasury of the People: Afghanistan, Lapis Lazuli and the Battle for Mineral Wealth,” revealed that the blue gem is providing millions of dollars every year to Taliban fighters and terror groups.

The biggest and most productive lapis lazuli mines are in Northern Afghanistan, in the once-stable Badakhshan area, where Taliban operatives are now “on the outskirts of the mines themselves.” The roads in and out of the mining areas are under Taliban control, and there is increasing “violent competition” to take over the mines from various insurgents and corrupt politicians. The Taliban already hold so much power and infrastructure in the area that there’s every possibility they will soon also control the mines.

The “damning report” claims that the Taliban’s sources of income include mining as the second largest piece. “[Ninety-nine percent] of the revenue goes to terror groups rather than the government,” and up to $20 million a year flows into Taliban coffers from illegal lapis lazuli mining.

Kate and other stars now know about how closely their jewelry is tied to terror. The Duchess has several other pieces of lapis jewelry as well, including a necklace with matching earrings and a bracelet. The lapis necklace and earrings can be glimpsed in the official engagement photo of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

Celeb Dirty Laundry reports that it’s unlikely Duchess Kate had any idea her love of lapis could be “costing lives,” but now that the report so clearly shows lapis is as much a conflict mineral as blood diamonds, it’s to be hoped that Kate will shun the gorgeous blue gem.

What do you think about celebrities’ love affair with lapis lazuli? Should Duchess Kate lead the way to ban the gemstone?

[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]