Ethical making is more than just a ‘feel good’ thing to do. Growing numbers of companies and public bodies are addressing the negative impacts of global industries and consumers are increasingly interested in the ethical standing of products.An ethical jewelry business involves responsible sourcing of materials, responsible studio practices and transparent branding that communicates our commitment to ethical making.
If the story behind a piece of jewelry includes the unfair treatment of communities and environmental destruction, the symbolic value of the piece can be tarnished.
Sourcing materials responsibly will help limit the harmful effects of mining industries, including:
- Environmental degradation through water pollution, harm to aquatic life, and damage to landscapes and ecosystems;
- Human rights violations on mining sites and in mining communities;
- Use of child and forced labour;
- Health and safety risks such as poisoning from unsafe handling of toxins, over-exhaustion from strenuous work, and injury caused by accidents and;
- Prevalence of violence in mining communities related to the trade of conflict minerals.
As a key actor in the supply chain, we choose to source traceable and responsibly mined precious metals. There are three accepted options for responsibly sourced precious metals, these are Fairtrade metals, Fairmined metals, or 100% recycled metals.
Gold, silver and platinum, precious metals commonly used in the jewellery and electronic industries, are mined around the world. After they are extracted from rough ore and processed, they are sold through trading bodies as metal bullion. Metal refiners turn metal bullion into products such as sheet or wire, and then sell these materials to industry bodies.
Metal mining occurs in both large and small-scale mines, each with different conditions, methods and access routes to the international market. There is artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) and large-scale mining (LSM) or ‘industrial/corporate’ mining.
Fairtrade and Fairmined are the two major accreditation schemes that bring precious metals from artisanal small-scale mines to market. They support artisanal small-scale miners by certifying that they employ responsible mining practices in compliance with their respective standards, and by conducting regular audits to ensure those standards are maintained.
Fairtrade and Fairmined metals can be traced to their source and makers and consumers can trust that they have been mined by people who have been treated and paid fairly.
Because of the nature of the metal trade, most precious metals have already been recycled to some degree. However, you can choose to source 100% post-consumer recycled metals which are made of second generation recycled content and may also be tracked to show this. Some suppliers will have a certification for their recycled metal content such as a Recycled Content Certification from Scientific Certification Systems.
We only work with suppliers offering Recycled Metals who have Certifications in place.
Responsibly sourcing diamonds and gemstones presents different challenges to responsible metal sourcing, but it is achievable.
Stone supply chains are more complicated than metals as there are fewer established certification systems in place. There are some accreditation schemes for diamonds, but currently none for gemstones.
Stones are mined all over the world from countries with different political climates, workers’ rights and trade laws. The nature of the stone trade and the fact that many stones are extremely old, make them difficult to trace back to the mine of origin.
It is not uncommon for stones to be mined in one country, and cut and polished in another, which may have different working standards, making it even more difficult to trace the stone from mine to market.
There is no formal third-party assurance to back up claims made by gemstone suppliers, which means that purchasing responsibly sourced gemstones requires developing an open dialogue with gemstone suppliers.
There are three main options for responsibly sourced stones. These are:
- stones that have been tracked and ideally certified with a known mine origin and verified standards;
- recycled/reclaimed/vintage stones and;
- lab created stones.
Our main supplier sources the majority of its diamonds directly from sources that manufacture rough diamonds from Canada, South Africa, Russia, Botswana and Namibia.
No Conflict Diamonds
They are committed to selling diamonds ethically and with integrity, giving us confidence in the diamonds we purchase. We believe it is completely unacceptable to tolerate conflict diamonds and/or human suffering in any way and we fully support the Kimberley Process. Our supplier offers this commitment to us. In turn, it can act as ourr commitment to our customers. All rough and polished diamonds sold by our suppliercomply with the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process ensures that rough diamonds are:
Exported and imported with a government validated Kimberly Process certificate stating the diamonds are conflict-free.
Transported between signatory countries in a sealed and tamper-proof container.
Sold with a statement from the seller (known as a warranty) on all invoices guaranteeing that the diamonds being sold are conflict-free.
Synthetic Screening Policy
When we buy diamonds from our supplier, we can buy with confidence. Our supplier does not tolerate undisclosed synthetic diamonds in its inventory. In July 2014, they acquired the De Beers Automatic Melee Screening Device (AMS), which screens all diamonds 1.4mm+ for synthetics in accordance with De Beers’ protocols. They require all their loose diamond and diamond set jewelry suppliers to warrant that they are not supplying them with synthetics. For additional security, they further stipulate that their vendors screen all diamonds from .20+ carats for synthetics.
Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America
Our supplier is a proud member of the DMIA.
Established in 1931, the mission of DMIA is to promote the highest standards of ethics, integrity and professionalism in the American marketplace. The DMIA, remains at the forefront in addressing domestic and world diamond industry issues, acts as a representative for the American diamond industry together with other industry organizations, governmental bodies, and the diamond consuming public.
The DMIA is dedicated to advancing and ensuring consumer confidence in diamonds and diamond jewelry.
Canadian Diamond Code of Conduct
The Code establishes a minimum standard based on records and a chain of warranties required to validate a Canadian diamond claim. Retailers who abide by the Code demonstrate to consumers their commitment to ensure authenticity of Canadian diamond claims. The Code allows Canadian diamonds to be traced from the Canadian mine to the diamond jewellery retailer, providing consumers a method to authenticate Canadian diamonds sold by a Code member.
Our supplier continues to adhere to strict protocols in regards to the sourcing of gemstones. As a natural resource, gemstones can be found almost anywhere and are exchanged too frequently to keep an absolute accurate account of their exact origin.
However, they engage in several practices to ensure the integrity of the stones they purchase. For example: Experts from both our supplier's US and Bangkok offices frequently visit their suppliers/cutters in order to make certain socially responsible practices are being followed in those locations.
All of their suppliers have provided written verification stating their compliance with the US Patriot Act.
Ethical making goes beyond how raw materials are sourced. When measuring the ethics of our practice, it is also important to consider our entire making process and how our work space functions. We make every effort to address the following issues.
- Chemical alternatives
- Greener options for print and packaging
- Greener consumption and resource use
- Using resources maximizing metal reclamation
If you are passionate about improving the lives of workers who have been exploited and the well being of the environment, consider ethically made jewelry.