The importance of buying ethical Jewellery
Every time you choose to buy ethical jewellery ahead of something which has been sourced through questionable means, you’re helping in the fight. But what difference are you going to make?
The impact on local communities
The plight of mining communities hasn’t gone unnoticed. With such severe cases stretching across Africa, initiatives have been set up to ensure a fair and even distribution of wealth is given to workers.
This has been perhaps best exemplified by the Fair Diamond Mining scheme in Liberia. This has seen a reduction in the number of workers needing to work by hand, thanks to large machinery.
It has also strived to reduce “unreasonable fees”, where people are either forced to pay for the privilege to mine, or only receive a wage when they find a gem. This has allowed for greater profit share to be given back to the local community.
As a result, the people of Liberia have been able to benefit from:
- Greater levels of housing for students at university
- The development of local organisations to monitor a fair distribution of important amenities
- A reduction in fees (and therefore more money for every family)
This has only become a possibility thanks to a concentrated effort to improve working conditions.
The impact on the environment
Any form of mining (however ethical) will have some sort of impact on the environment. The use of machinery will disturb a natural habitat, and can have a detrimental effect on the lives of those who live there.
As such, there are two methods employed to combat this issue.
A great deal of energy is required to power the machinery needed to unearth diamonds. In some cases, this means resources which aren’t renewable (such as coal) are being drained.
In order to counteract the problem, new focus has been placed on ensuring energy sustainability is taken into account when mining. This has perhaps been exemplified by a number of organisations, all of whom are trying to do their bit to sustain resources:
This company owns two major mines, both of which face extreme contrasting weather conditions. Extreme heat is hard to deal with in Western Australia, whereas temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees celsius in Canada.
Rather than relying on non-renewable forms of energy to power these mines, Rio Tinto instead make the most of these natural conditions. They use the powerful winds of Canada to power 9.2 megawatt turbines, while hydroelectricity is employed in Australia to keep the facility running smoothly.
This company has managed to reduce their energy consumption by as much as 4% in one year. This has largely been thanks to a switch to gas fuel for vehicles, as well as the introduction of new equipment which is far more energy efficient.
Petra have made a myriad of changes to their setup. They’ve introduced LED bulbs, heat pumps and solar heating systems. All of these innovations are part of an initiative to manage the use of energy more efficiently.
Source: Diamond Producers
These actions have come as a result of higher demand placed on the value of ethical production. As we place more importance as a society on the need to conserve the environment, industrial companies like these are reacting.
But it’s not just adopting a greener approach which will play a part.
Man made diamonds
There has been a recent surge in the number of diamonds which are being created artificially. Again, this has proven a popular option as a direct result of growing concerns over sustainability.
The process for growing diamonds is simple, but effective:
Diamond seeds (small fragments recycled from other diamonds) are added to a growth chamber.
The chamber is closed, and a ball of superheated gas is generated inside it.
The heat inside the chamber is cranked up to anywhere between 900 to 1,200 degrees celsius.
At this point, methane and hydrogen gases stick to the seed. This causes carbon to form and grow on them. They’ll be left at this stage for anywhere between 3-4 weeks.
Seeds are monitored via the use of technology. This allows the producer to know when to remove the seed, helping them to optimise the exact characteristics of the gem.
The diamonds are removed from the machine. At this point, they’re shaped like cuboids, with rough edges. They need to be cut and polished before they can be sold.
Not only do these diamonds bypass the destructive mining process, but they can even be produced exclusively via solar power.