Ethically made jewellery is crucially about the origins of the materials used to make the product and the conditions under which these were produced and traded. This is where the majority of the environmental and social injustices occur in the production of jewellery.
An ethical jewellery business involves responsible sourcing of materials, responsible studio practices and transparent branding that communicates a commitment to ethical making, from materials that have been produced on sites that protect the health and safety of workers and the environment but also produced by people that are paid a fair wage. An ethical jeweller will therefore try wherever possible to improve the environmental and social sustainability of their practice.
Jewellers who are committed to responsible business practices will be happy to answer questions about how they source their materials and make their work. Jewellers who consider issues in their supply chains, put in great efforts to have responsible businesses and practices and companies who are completely transparent, will want to share this story with you.
If you are passionate about improving the lives of workers who have been exploited and the well being of the environment, you will probably consider ethically made jewellery
WHY CHOOSE ETHICAL JEWELLERY?
An ethical approach to any practice means choosing materials and using methods that will reduce your impact on the environment. 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.
In a 2018 Nielsen report on consumption patterns, it was reported that 81% of respondents to a global survey feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment, with the millennial age group coming in as the biggest supporter (85%). A study by YouGov revealed that nine per cent of millennials believe that ethics are the single most important factor when it comes to buying or receiving an engagement ring. This might not sound like a huge number, but it’s a lot higher than it would have been if you asked the same question 25 years ago.
There is also a much higher emotional value in a piece of jewellery with an origin story that reflects its symbolic meaning. Jewellery is often purchased to symbolise special moments and relationships, such as weddings and birthdays. Each piece of jewellery tells a story that adds meaning to those moments and it is important that the symbolic value of the piece matches this. If the story behind a piece of jewellery includes the unfair treatment of communities and environmental destruction, the symbolic value is tarnished.
Being able to tell the origin story of where you bought your jewellery from will be meaningful to your loved one and the ability to show how your choice has made a positive impact on people whose livelihoods depend on the supply chain will increase the emotional value of your gift.
Increasing the emotional value also means increasing the economic value because research shows that most of us are attracted to luxury products with meaningful stories.
According to the 2016 Ethical Consumer Markets Report there was an average 8.5% growth in total ethical sales, which had been growing for 13 years prior, with 53% of the UK population choosing to avoid buying products/services because of their ethical reputation.
As consumer awareness increases, companies who practice meaningful ethical policies are becoming more favoured and the ethical consumer is more invested in who they purchase from compared to traditional buyers. They’ve done their research and they know they want not only the best quality for the best price, but transparency and authenticity is also just as important.
Limit Harmful Impacts
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.
We are a socially responsible business that is completely committed to supporting human rights and environmental sustainability
WHAT’S WRONG WITH MINED DIAMONDS?
Diamonds are undeniably beautiful, and the marketing from companies such as De Beers will try to convince you that they are desirable, and even essential when one is proposing to one’s girlfriend. There is also the ‘fact’ that one must spend an inordinate amount of money to achieve maximum sparkle. The mined diamond industry is less keen that you know about the murky side of their industry, the environmental damage, the human rights abuses and the questionable business practices, all of which we examine more closely in our blogs, if you’re interested.
Many jewellers will tell you that their diamonds are ‘Kimberley-certified’ and are therefore conflict-free and/or ethical, but this isn’t enough.The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was introduced in 2003 in an attempt to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds, however, diamonds produced in conflict zones are still being smuggled to KPCS regions to be certified.
The mining industry has taken a huge toll on the Earth, resulting in deforestation, soil erosion, relocation of local people, vanishing wildlife and desolate landscapes. When it comes to engagement rings and fine jewellery, diamonds are particularly problematic. Blood diamonds are mined in war-torn countries where conflict is often funded by the diamond trade where diamonds signify worker exploitation and atrocious human rights abuses rather than romance and commitment. Diamond miners are some of the poorest people on the planet and work in extremely dangerous conditions.
Historically, the diamond industry is well-known for conflict and its impact on the environment and still echoes the dangerous rippling effect of using blood diamonds. It can be an overwhelming worry whether your diamond was smuggled out of a war-torn area or caused hurt, which sadly still happens.
The problem is therefore far from eradicated, and blood diamonds from places like eastern DRC and Zimbabwe are still on the market. Jewellers maybe able to trace a precious stone back to its source, but this doesn’t guarantee that it is free from conflict as it passes through a host of procedures that may exploit young people including children and vulnerable people in the cutting and polishing processes for example where they are treated like slaves and not paid.
Unfortunately, by its very nature, diamond mining will never be a completely ‘green’ industry despite jewellers telling you that their diamonds are “ethical”, creating huge open pits in the Earth in a previously untouched landscape will always have implications. There is absolutely no way of knowing that a mined diamond is conflict-free or therefore ethical and the jewellers that rely on the Kimberley Process Certification are just giving you lip service.
Huge holes in our Earth – Diavik Mine – Canada
BUT A CANADIAN DIAMOND IS DEFINITELY “ETHICAL”, RIGHT ?
You will also read that jewellers say that Canadian diamonds are an ethical choice. But they do not tell you about the damage to the delicate ecosystems, the environment and associated wildlife which may not be associated with humanitarian issues but the conflict to the environment, animals and indigenous people is devastating and the attempt to restore the damage that is being caused in the Ekati and Diavik mines in Canada has been reported to be woefully inadequate.
Questions have been asked for many years around the origins of diamonds, especially since the 2006 film Blood Diamonds starring Leonardo di Caprio brought the issues into the public eye highlighting a small but darkly disturbing side of the mining industry, the provenance of a diamond is becoming an increasingly important selling point. Buying an engagement ring should be a ‘feel-good’ purchase, and ethically savvy consumers are often reassured to find that a Canadian diamond ring comes with a laser inscription and ‘birth certificate’. The way diamonds are graded on the basis of the 4 Cs has always been skewed against traceability. The Canadians have been very successful in differentiating themselves on the basis of provenance.
Are all Canadian diamonds marked?
Not all Canadian diamonds are marked, but there are a number of programmes that offer a mine-to-market custody chain to provide assurance that the diamond has been ethically sourced in Canada and processed by approved manufacturers.
The Canadian Diamond Code of Conduct is a voluntary scheme set up in 2002 that assigns an identification number and code certificate to each polished diamond that is sold as ‘Canadian’. All the Canadian diamond mines are members, together with a large number of Canadian wholesalers, distributors and retailers. If a consumer buys a diamond from a retailer that abides by the code, the gem can be traced all the way back to the Canadian mine where it originated.
However, with rough diamonds that are shipped overseas, the process is slightly different. Each parcel is marked with a serial number to identify the mine of origin and, depending on their size, some stones are inscribed with a unique code. However, if the parcels are split up and mixed in with diamonds from other sources or larger gems are cut into smaller stones, the tracking of individual diamonds becomes extremely difficult.
So just because a diamond was mined in Canada, it does not mean it was cut and polished locally. The diamond-cutting industry in Canada is still relatively small so most rough Canadian diamonds are shipped overseas to be sold and cut in countries such as Israel, India, Belgium and Vietnam.
In perfect balance ethically and environmentally, IQ Diamonds are a greener choice. Dedicating the past 10 years into delivering honest, transparent and helpful information to the consumer about the diamond industry practices and educating about this modern-day diamond that will stand the test of time, not cost a fortune, and meets with their ethical ethos. The process of growing an IQ Diamond causes no harm or destruction to the environment, miners, indigenous people or wildlife. The IQ Diamond is eco-conscious without the cost to our Earth and those who live on it.
SUPPORTING THE ENVIRONMENT FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Ethica Diamonds understands the ecological impacts that the jewellery industry is making and we are doing our part to help support the environment and for its greater good.
We use recycled precious metals and conflict free gemstones to help and protect our Earth’s natural resources.
Our packaging is nearly 100% recycled and recyclable.
Our stationary is sustainably harvested. Our tissue paper is acid free and our ribbon is made from wood pulp, which is totally environmentally friendly.
We work only with suppliers who share our ethical integrity and interests in doing all they can to create a more sustainable future.
We will continuously work towards reducing our environmental impact and we are keen to start a program to donate a proportion of our sales to charities to support different aspects of environmental suffering.
What is Eco-Friendly Recycled Metal?
Eco-friendly recycled metals are gold and platinum that have been melted down to be reused. Unlike common scrap recycling, which can come from post-consumer products like technology, scrap waste metals and other sources, this kind of recycling is sourced specifically from metals that can be reused to make fine jewellery.
As part of our commitment to environmental responsibility, Ethica Diamonds primarily uses recycled and re-refined solid 18k gold and 950 pure platinum in our fine jewellery from refineries that represent our commitment to the Earth. Eco-friendly recycled metals you’ll love for their beauty and be proud to wear for their minimal impact on the environment.
Why we use Recycled Metals
Gold mining is a dirty industry and it is as unethical and outdated as mining for diamonds. Gold mining displaces communities, contaminates drinking water, hurts workers, generates heaps of waste, leaves a long-lasting scar on landscapes and communities, and contaminates ecosystems with toxic waste which results in widespread water pollution.
We choose recycled metals to decrease the global demand for newly mined gold. This will diminish the environmentally and socially destructive effects of dirty gold and other metal mining practices. Because precious metals can be recycled repeatedly without degradation in quality, they are a naturally renewable resource.
All our settings are manufactured in the United Kingdom and not overseas to ensure that they are well constructed, using more metal per ring than your average high-street jeweller, many of which source their jewellery from manufacturers who make everything in the Far East, and are made under good environmental and ethical conditions. By doing this we can guarantee your jewellery to be conflict free and of the highest quality and integrity.
We have been awarded the highly acclaimed Ethical Award from the Ethical Company Organisation consistently since 2012 on completion of an ethical audit and still hold the award today. It puts us in the top third of companies deemed to “excel in ethical consumerism with an excellent corporate social responsibility strategy”. Basically, we trade ethically and responsibly with regard to people, animals and the environment.
On completion of the audit, their research team made the following comment:
“It is refreshing to discover a company like Ethica Diamonds, offering a unique product which respects human rights and the environment – often negatively associated with the process of earth mined diamonds. The company shows a clear understanding of sustainability with the sourcing, production and packaging of their products through their own business practices.”
THE GOOD SHOPPING GUIDE
We’re delighted to have earned our place in the Good Shopping Guide too, which is the world’s leading reference book on how to shop with confidence and a clear conscience. The guide reports on companies and ranks them with an ethical score based on their performance and concern for the environment, animal welfare and human rights. You’ll find everything in there from banks to butter, washing machines to jeans and we’re proud to be listed, especially as it gives you reliable and independent reassurance that we’re an ethical company you can trust.
Ethica Diamonds will continuously aim towards reducing harmful practices on the environment and work hard to bring you the finest quality diamond jewellery. We will explore every opportunity to ensure every aspect of our business practice is as environmentally friendly as it can be, free from conflict that you always pay a fair price.
FUTURE 50 AWARDS
The Future 50 is an opportunity for disruptive business owners to take the spotlight, demonstrating the ways in which each have revolutionised stagnant industries. It identifies, celebrates and supports companies under four years old that are triggering change in their markets; or creating new markets.
We impressed judges with our combination of ethical campaigning and product innovation. Ethica Diamonds offers consumers beautiful, credible alternative diamonds, eliminating the ecological and environmental issues associated with earth-mined diamonds. Alongside offering an alternative with its “Kind, not Mined” products, we also work to educate consumers about the costs and conflicts involved in the diamond mining industry.
Feefo is a ratings and reviews platform providing consumers with the most trusted feedback ratings available. Every single review is written by a customer who has bought from us and as there is no way that we can edit or remove anything that has been posted, means that what has been written, is truthful and independent.
Any business that has won the Gold Trusted Service award for three consecutive years, or more, has been awarded with a Platinum Trusted Service award in 2020. To qualify for Gold Trusted Service each year, you must have collected at least 50 reviews between January 1st and December 31st in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and achieved a Feefo service rating of at least 4.5 out of 5.
The Trusted Service award has always been about recognising companies that truly excel and stand out from their competitors. The new platinum award is about consistent achievement, and providing outstandingly high levels of customer experience.
Our customer service and keeping each and every customer happy is a tough challenge sometimes, but it means everything to us as a small company, and so we are really proud of this achievement and recognition.
SHORTLISTED IN CORNWALL BUSINESS AWARDS
The Cornwall Business Awards are a celebration of innovation, achievement and entrepreneurial spirit within the Cornish business community. These awards are organised by Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth and Skills Hub and presented by Cornwall Development Company.
Having entered in several categories in 2017, Ethica Diamonds were shortlisted for Most Sustainable Business, and Business Innovation of the Year, and we were honoured to be a part of this glittering event in Cornwall.
CORNWALL SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS
Having consistently grown year on year, the CSA has become the county’s leading initiative for rewarding and celebrating enterprises for their contribution to environmental growth and resource efficiency.
In 2016, we were shortlisted and went on to collect the Highly Commended Award for Tomorrows Contribution To Sustainability.
The Fairtrade gold we use is of identical quality to their non-ethically mined counterparts with the added benefit of being socially responsible for the communities who rely on the gold mines for their livelihood. Ethica Diamonds are Fairtrade registered jewellers and we promote the development of a Fairtrade gold system that will guarantee fair wages, promote economic growth, and empower mining communities. Be proud to wear your gold jewellery from us knowing that it has helped the people of the mining communities, not harmed them.