The ethics of diamonds
We love to work with natural materials. Gemstones, pearls, diamonds, gold, silver and platinum... they’re all beautiful to us.
However we fully realise the limitations of ethical conduct when dealing with materials that are mined. There are two ways in which we deal with this. First, we offer synthetic, laboratory created diamonds and gemstones as an alternative to our customers on request. Second, we we are very careful to only work with reputable gemstone and metal suppliers who provide appropriate care for their employees and environment in which they mine.
The movie ‘Blood Diamonds’ brought to light horrific practices in some African countries in the mining and trade of diamonds. This has gone a long way in bringing this issue to the public’s attention.
Australia is a signatory of the Kimberly Process. Our diamond merchants and their suppliers must follow the Kimberly Process system of warranties and checks. The Kimberly Process covers areas including human rights and where the profits from diamond mining goes. It does not explicitly cover the environmental effect of mining. It has dramatically altered the diamond trade and significantly reduced the risk of conflict diamonds being traded. In addition to the added security the Kimberly Process brings, we have investigated our supply chain of diamonds in the same way we have for our other materials, as described earlier.
There is still obviously an element of trust in the strong relationships we continue to build with our suppliers.
The World Diamond Council still acknowledges that 1% of diamonds on the world market today (down from 4% at its peak in the late 1990s) may be from conflict sources . We personally feel this would be very unlikely through our supply chain. However, if you want to be absolutely certain, we have three more options for you.
1. Choose a diamond from Australia or Canada. These diamonds are mined, cut and polished on site. The Australian diamonds are significantly more expensive than any other, and there are no white diamonds available. The Canadian diamonds are approximately 10 to 15% more expensive than other diamonds. They come with lazer engraving telling you which mine the diamond came from. Another ethical consideration in choosing an Australian or Canadian diamond is that you can be sure of the worker and environmental standards the mines are required to uphold. We are very happy to source these diamonds for you.
2. A synthetic, laboratory created diamond. These are often called ‘man made diamonds’. A good quality diamond will have very similar qualities to that of an earth diamond, and are made of pure carbon. They do however come at a similar price. Others can be more affordable and still have excellent look and feel. Again, we can happily source these for you.
3. Redesign an heirloom or antique piece. We love to work with customers who wish to remodel jewellery pieces. Many like to use the same diamond or gemstone and create a new setting. We would love to hear your ideas.
In terms of our own ethics as a retailer, we offer independent valuations on our diamond purchases. Where a customer is choosing a loose diamond to be set into our jewellery, we can opt to choose a diamond with a GIA certification as an additional guarantee. The finished jewellery piece should then also have an independent valuation.
We are members of the Jewellers Association of Australia and signatories to their code of conduct. We have also made the a public pledge in joining the campaign for ethical jewellery.
And perhaps the best evidence that we care about the ethics behind what we do, is that we have taken the time to write about it here. We would be happy to hear from you with any queries in choosing your jewellery.