Beyonce is said to be 'disappointed and angry' at unknowingly modeling a 'blood diamond' in her new Tiffany & Co. campaign after facing furious online backlash.
The singer, 39, wore the famed 128.54 carat Tiffany Diamond, in a photoshoot with her husband Jay Z, which debuted last week - becoming just the fourth female - and the first black woman - to ever wear the gem.
However the chart-topper and the luxury jewelry brand have come under furious fire over the decision to showcase the controversial diamond, with many social media users calling attention to its contentious history and the circumstances under which it was mined.
The diamond was discovered in a colonial mine in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1877 - at a time when the country, and its mines, were under British colonial rule - and when predominantly black migrant workers were subjected to horrific conditions while receiving paltry pay in return.
Unwitting: Beyonce was left 'disappointed and angry' after unknowingly wearing $30M Tiffany 'blood diamond' in a new campaign for the jewelers
Striking: The singer, 39, modeled the famed 128.54 carat Tiffany Diamond, making her the fourth female to ever wear the gem, in a photoshoot alongside her husband Jay Z last week
Spotlight: The singer has faced furious backlash for wearing the gem, which was found in the Kimberley mines in South Africa in 1877 - when workers were subjected to horrific conditions
According to a source close to Beyonce, the singer was unaware of the diamond's controversial history, and has been left outraged over the fact that she was not given more information about the gem's background.
'Beyonce is aware of the criticism and is disappointed and angry that she wasn't made aware of questions about its history,' an unnamed insider told The Sun.
'She thought that every final detail had been vetted, but now she realizes that the diamond itself was overlooked.'
MailOnline has contacted representatives for Beyonce and Tiffany & Co. for comment.
The Tiffany diamond at the center of the backlash was dug from the De Beers’ Kimberley Mine in colonial South Africa in 1877 when black laborers were forced to work in horrendous conditions for miniscule pay.
The work was dangerous and unhealthy, with workers forced to work in cramped conditions, often causing fatal accidents.
Conditions outside of the mine were no better, with the housing for the workers featuring no natural water or waste disposal, with 1,144 dying from a range of illnesses including pneumonia and scurvy between 1897 and 1899 alone.
Traditionally, a blood diamond, also known as a conflict diamond, is any gem that has been mined and sold in order to fund military action against a government - as defined by the United Nations.
However, the term has also been applied to rough gems that were mined by people who were subjected to the kinds of conditions that Kimberley miners suffered during the 1870s - as with the Tiffany diamond that Beyonce modeled in her campaign.
Hitting back: Beyonce's mother Tina Knowles defended her daughter after her new campaign for Tiffany & Co. caused backlash online (pictured with Beyonce in 2012)
Defending her daughter: Tina asked if any of the 'activists' defending Beyonce had researched the origin of their own gems
The diamond's history has prompted furious backlash against the singer and the jeweler, with many social media users voicing outrage that the diamond is still being showcased, particularly by a woman of color who has been so outspoken against racism.
'I had to process Jay Z and Beyoncé ’s Tiffany’s campaign for just a minute before saying anything but how did no one see that the whole “first Black woman” marketing angle on this is not doing what they think it’s doing when that s**t is a literal blood diamond!!!!' one furious Twitter user wrote.
Another added: 'Not y'all celebrating the fact Beyonce is the first Black woman to wear a Tiffany blood diamond following in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga.
'That rock needs to left alone in a museum explaining its history while paying ongoing reparations, not paraded around.'
Although Beyonce has yet to publicly comment on the furious controversy surrounding her new Tiffany campaign, her mother, Tina Knowles, took to Instagram on Thursday night to fire back at her critics, branding them hypocritical.
'How many of you socially conscious activist[s] own diamonds?' she questioned. 'I thought so! Well guess what did you go to try to check to see where the diamond came from? Probably not.'
She added: 'So when you guys get engaged you won't have a diamond you gonna put on a sterling silver band and you better check out where it came from and the origin of where came from and why you add it check out the calls for the leather that you [wear] because they made it came from another country to ban and not buy diamonds right because your righteous!!'
Breakfast at Beyonce's! The singer put a modern spin on Audrey's iconic look in the Sixties romcom Breakfast at Tiffany's where she played socialite Holly Golightly (left)
The diamond was found in 1877 at the De Beers Mine in Kimberley, South Africa, before being purchased by Tiffany & Co founder Charles Lewis Tiffany for $18,000 the following year
However Knowles' defense of her daughter has done little to quell the online outrage over the campaign, which has seen dozens of people voicing their upset over Beyonce's participation.
WHERE DID THE TIFFANY DIAMOND COME FROM?
The Tiffany diamond was discovered in the De Beers Mine in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1877 - at a time when the country and its mines were under British colonial rule.
Black laborers were forced to work in horrendous conditions at the mine for miniscule pay.
During this time, miners were subjected to dangerous and unhealthy situations, which resulted in many fatal accidents.
Housing for the workers had no natural water or waste disposal.
The mine lends its name to The Kimberley Process - a certification scheme established by the UN in 2003 to stop blood diamonds entering the mainstream diamond market.
Writer Zoe Samudzi tweeted: 'Tiffany's put Beyoncé in a diamond — "discovered" in a colonial mine in Kimberly in 1877—that no black woman has ever worn before in an ad with a never-ever-before-seen Basquiat and then pledged $2 million in scholarships & internships to HBCUs.'
Another person wrote: 'This is not just 'a necklace' it's a blood diamond that was mined off the blood of south africans, if they didn't meet their quota their hands and feet were mutilated or were just killed.'
Some fans suggested that Beyonce is being unfairly targeted by critics - noting that the same outrage was not aimed at Lady Gaga when she wore the diamond back in 2019.
However, others suggested that Beyonce and the jewelry brand deserve the criticism because they had so publicly boasted about the fact that the singer was the first black woman to ever wear the diamond.
'[Lady Gaga] is a capitalist exploiter too, but only in the case of Beyoncé is her blackness being invoked as an 'accomplishment' for wearing it despite the Africans it harmed. That's the difference,' one wrote.
Prior to Beyonce, the massive yellow diamond had previously only been worn by four women: Mary Whitehouse, Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga.
The gem, which is said to be worth $30 million, according to estimates from Tiffany & Co, was purchased by the jewelry company's founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, for just $18,000 back in 1878, one year after it was discovered in the Kimberley mines.
When it was discovered, the rough gem was 287.42 carats, however after it was purchased by Tiffany, the stone was taken to Paris, where the brand's chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, had it cut into a cushion shape so as to better show off its flawless quality.
Debate: Beyonce's campaign divided Twitter as some fans defended her
Not happy: One fan wrote about how the mine was rife for using enslaved African labor
Hitting back: Some critics took to Twitter to slam the star
Debate: Tensions were raised on social media as many Twitter users offered their opinion
Storm: Writer Zoe Samudzi lead some of the critics online
The stone now weighs 128.54 carats, is just over one inch-wide, and has 82 facets, with Tiffany & Co. boasting on its website that the cut helps to 'enhance its radiant color', noting that the stone 'sparkles as if lit by an inner flame'.
Socialite Whitehouse was the first to wear the gemstone after it was set in necklace form at the 1957 Tiffany Feather Ball in Rhode Island, and Hepburn later donned the gem in promotional images for Breakfast At Tiffany's.
The diamond was later reset in a new necklace form in 2012 to mark the 175th anniversary of Tiffany & Co, which is the design that Lady Gaga modeled at the 2019 Academy Awards.
Despite a handful of iconic starlets having tried the diamond on for size, Beyonce and Jay-Z's shoot marks the first time the diamond has ever been featured in a campaign - which has only helped to add fuel to the fire as far as its contentious background is concerned.
While there is controversy surrounding the Tiffany Diamond, now Tiffany & Co insists that all of its diamonds are 'conflict-free' - explaining on its website that the company is committed to a UN initiative called the Kimberley Process, which aims to prevent blood diamonds from entering the mainstream market, and which was named after the same mining colony where the brand's infamous diamond was first found.
'As global leaders in sustainable luxury, Tiffany & Co. is committed to sourcing natural and precious materials in an ethical and sustainable manner,' the brand's website states.
'We have a zero-tolerance policy toward conflict diamonds, and source our diamonds only from known sources and countries that are participants in the Kimberley Process.'
The Kimberley Process is a certification scheme established by the UN in 2003 which aims to prevent blood diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market.
Also worn by: Lady Gaga dazzled in the diamond as she wore it to the 2019 Academy Awards
Despite these measures, blood diamonds are still a major issue within the jewelry industry, with Amnesty International revealing in 2015 that children as young as 11 were still being put to work as 'slaves' in diamond mines in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Blood diamonds have funded brutal wars in countries such as CAR, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone over the decades, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people.
Beyonce is not the only celebrity to have been dragged into the blood diamond controversy over the years. In 2010, supermodel Naomi Campbell told a war crimes tribunal that she had been given several blood diamonds by an African dictator in 1997 while attending an event in South Africa that was hosted by Nelson Mandela.
According to the fashion star, who is now 51, she was awoken in the middle of the night after the event, and handed several rough stones by a man who was working for African dictator Charles Taylor.
She described how she was asleep when two men knocked on the door of her room and handed over a package.
'I was sleeping and had a knock at the door that woke me up. Two men were there and they gave me a pouch and said: "A gift for you", Campbell told the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.
'I went back to bed. I looked into the pouch the next morning. I saw a few stones, they were very small, dirty looking stones.
'I'm used to seeing diamonds in a box... If someone had not said they were diamonds, I would not have known they were diamonds.'
Campbell then gave the stones to the director of Mandela's charity, Jeremy Ractliffe, who kept them for 13 years, until handing them over to police in 2010 after the model's testimony at the war crimes trial.
Prosecutors had summoned Campbell to support their allegations that Taylor received blood diamonds from rebels in Sierra Leone and used them to buy weapons during his 1997 trip to South Africa.