The holiday season is a time of material pleasures, but it’s also a time to take stock of how our social values tend to be at odds with the objects we most prize.

While countless American shoppers splurge this month–probably to delude ourselves momentarily that we can still afford to indulge—the social cost of one luxury item has exposed a global crisis. The human rights group Global Witness has abandoned the Kimberly Process, the international regulatory framework aimed at restricting trafficking in “conflict diamonds.” The group argues that the process, which it helped create, is broken and ridden with loopholes.