How to find and buy ethical jewellery
The best way to fight the ongoing use of immoral and unethical production in the diamond industry is by ensuring the products you’re buying are sourced ethically.
If you’re someone who doesn’t buy jewellery often, or just someone with a limited understanding of the ethics of the industry, it can be tough to know where to start.
You may want to make a difference, but are unsure how to best go about that. Let’s look at the steps you can take to do your part.
Advice for spotting ethical jewellery
There’s no way to simply look at a diamond and identify it as an unethical product. Unlike with fake items, there’s nothing physically different about something which was produced via immoral methods.
Research the jeweller
Make sure you do some background reading before you purchase any diamonds. You’ll want to find out if a jeweller has a history of dealing with ethically produced materials.
It may be that they advertise this fact. If not, look for reviews of their products online. Some strong signs that they’re a jeweller you can rely on include if they:
- Fund projects in communities where they source diamonds
- Support initiatives which champion the fair production of diamonds
- Openly promote the fact their gems are sourced ethically
If you’re still unsure about a specific jeweller, then get in touch with the Responsible Jewellery Council. They monitor suppliers, ensuring they comply with the best business standards when it comes to ethical production.
Speak to them before buying
Having a chat with a jeweller is a good way of understanding whether they’re offering products which are ethical. They should be able to answer any basic questions you have regarding the origin of the items they’re selling.
Make sure to be firm. If the responses they’re giving are vague (saying you should simply trust them at their word), start looking elsewhere. You should be able to find evidence they’re complying with strict sanctions set out by fair mining initiatives.
Avoid diamonds from noted areas of conflict
As discussed, there are certain regions of the world where war and other conflicts have played a huge role in the production of diamonds.
While there are schemes which have seen a fair and ethical production of diamonds, you’d be wise to steer clear of gems which have been sourced from these places.
Some of the worst areas for conflict diamonds include:
In contrast, if you’re looking for nations who currently have a more respectable reputation, you can turn to the likes of Canada, Australia, Namibia and even Sierra Leone.
Buying different types of ethical jewellery
But it’s not just diamonds which you can source ethically. If you’re after another precious gemstone, there are ways you can find an option which doesn’t impact anyone in a negative way.
Owing to its popularity, gold is a metal which is commonly bought for the purposes of jewellery usage. Fairtrade gold is a fantastic option for anyone looking to guarantee ethical practices have been used in production.
When you purchase gold with the Fairtrade Gold stamp you’re making sure the miners in question were given a fair cut. Workers and local communities are able to reinvest this money into:
- Medical care
- Environmental projects
Gold, much like diamond, can also be recycled. Jewellers have been doing this for thousands of years, so you can rely on them to work on the gold without causing surface damage.
Platinum mines used to be Faitrade. However, after many of these were bought out by non-fairtrade corporations it’s considerably harder to source where the metal is coming from. As such, it’s best to use recycled platinum. Make sure you’re purchasing this from an accredited source like SCS Global Services in the US.
Gems like emeralds, rubies and sapphires follow a fairly similar process to diamonds. It’s important that a supplier can show you a clearly traceable, transparent supply chain.
There are loads of ways they can prove the gems in question are ethical, with some of the best including:
- Images from the mines themselves
- Cutting facility details
- Mining licenses
- Disclosure certificates
There are alternatives akin to those of diamonds:
- Lab grown gemstones
- Gemstones with a clearly traceable supply chain
- Gemstones which have been recycled
Utilise any of these options if you’re unsure of how production was carried out.
Ultimately, when it comes to finding jewellery which you know you can trust, it’s a case of asking questions and making sure you have faith in the supplier. Unless you’re 100% sure, never buy.