Mark only uses ethically sourced diamonds in his wedding rings, engagement rings and bespoke jewellery pieces. In this blog Mark takes a closer look at the different ethically sourced diamonds available on the market now, and the future of diamonds.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend is the age old saying and whilst it is hugely romantic and befitting of the role in which this precious gem takes on, it doesn’t elude to the story behind its existence.
When I began my goldsmith vocation, I took the decision to be an ethical one, based on my moral compass but also on the research I undertook.
We are all becoming much more conscious of where we spend our hard-earned money and more aware of the provenance, social and environmental impact of the items we choose to consume. Jewellery, and as such, diamonds are not exempt from our careful decision-making process as people and also, as Jacqueline & Edward.
The formation of a snowflake is unique, likewise every diamond is too, and every diamond has a different story to tell.
Writing this blog has prompted me to revisit the kinds of diamonds we want to work with and the comparative ethics between the different types of diamonds which are available (aside of blood diamonds of course, which any self-respecting jeweller wouldn’t touch with a barge pole). Whilst continuing our never-ending endeavour to evolve in the way we work, I have been asking myself if we are on the right path, or if there is a better one.
As Victor Frankl once said “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I believe we are in a world of changing circumstances and we have the right to choose and evolve our path accordingly. Currently, my jewellery designs include one of three types of diamond, each serving its own purpose in trying to align with the ethical choice whilst appealing to the designs we sell and the preferences of our Clients. Lab grown diamonds for those who wish to have diamonds which are not mined at all, Canadian diamonds which are ethical on a number of levels within the context of mined stones and conflict free mined diamonds which are compliant with the Kimberly process.
The diamonds we use are about to change, as yet again we choose our own way in this forever changing world, but for now let’s dig a little deeper into what we have chosen before we reveal where we are going next……
In 2003 the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was born with the intention to prevent conflict diamonds entering the market. Conflict diamonds are blood diamonds to you and I, whereas conflict-free diamonds are ethical in terms of not being mined in a war zone to fund violence associated with, inter alia, warlords and invading armies. If you haven’t watched the 2006 film “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, then I recommend you crack open a bottle of wine and get some popcorn on your knee because education just got fun.
Some movements contest that the scheme isn’t as watertight as it could be resulting in organisations such as IMPACT pulling out. However, in terms of sourcing small diamonds for eternity rings, or to accent an engagement ring, buying a diamond compliant with KPCS is not a bad choice in a difficult area – namely the acquisition of small stones which don’t have the monetary value to support more vigorous and detailed ethical fingerprints and assurances. Sadly though, conflict free diamonds do not guarantee the wages or living standards of the miners involved or the environmental condition of the mines themselves. There also remains the risk that they are no conflict free at all.
When it comes to natural ethically mined diamonds, Canadian diamonds get our gold seal of approval. They are mined and shipped without connection to rebel or terror groups worldwide and are certainly conflict free. Beyond that; social, financial and environmental factors are evaluated before the mining of any such diamond, allowing for constraints and mitigation measures to be implemented during the planning, development and operation of the mines.
We use Canadian diamonds for the larger stones within our work for those Clients who want a natural diamond with an ethical badge, but alas, your packets need to be quite deep.
These are as the name suggests grown in a safe and controlled environment (a laboratory), therefore they are not natural gemstones. If you are looking for a diamond which is not connected to mining in any way, then this could be the perfect ethical choice.
I have to say that I am an advocate of the lab grown diamond. To me they represent an excellent ethical choice, whilst also generating a very high-quality diamond which can be sold at a lower cost to an equivocal natural diamond. You can’t tell them apart from natural diamonds without specialist equipment and they go through stringent gemmological tests to be certified prior to sale. They are classified as diamonds, because they literally are just that, but instead of being forged deep in the earth by the forces of nature, they are created under the roof of an unassuming commercial building by the hands of man.
I visited our supplier in Washington DC over a year ago now. It was a fascinating trip and one which I intend to cover in detail within another blog because lab-grown diamonds have become a hot topic and are worthy of detailed discussion. What I can say I saw were happy staff who were obviously fairly paid judging by the cars outside, there was no big hole in the ground, no loss of habitat from their use of the existing engineering warehouse they had set up shop in and no additional ecological impact. As with every type of diamond, there are counter arguments to the use of lab-grown diamonds in terms of the measurement of their ethical standing e.g. their export for the purpose of faceting and the associated carbon footprint and the comparative importance and potential impact on artisanal mining to local economies in third world countries. But, even given this, one can’t help but stand back and appreciate they definitely represent one of the more ethical choices out there. If you want a diamond which is not mined, they remain a very strong candidate.
The future of Jacqueline & Edward
I feel that to date we’ve been making ethical wedding and engagement rings we can be proud of. We’ve chosen to promote lab-grown diamonds and diamonds which are mined with consideration for social, economic and environmental impact. We accept it gets more difficult with smaller diamonds but utilise mechanisms such as the Kimberly Process to try and prevent contributions to illegal violence noting such mechanisms are not perfect.
The future direction of Jacqueline & Edward however has been identified by reflecting on our use of ethical metals. We pride ourselves in being one step removed from mining and in using only recycled metals to create our wedding rings. Why then I asked myself are we using mined stones at all, regardless of how ethical the process is.
As such, we have now found a trusted partner in the acquisition of recycled diamonds (and other stones) and will use and promote these alongside lab grown diamonds as our preferred ethical choice. Recycled diamonds have exactly the same history as eco-grain / recycled gold i.e. recycled from the world around us, whether they be from an old broach or ring sold in a charity shop or broken out of rings by an ethical stone dealer. By adopting this approach, we feel we are continuing to refine and navigate our way through the ethical maze, and we look forward to you joining us. This may not be the perfect ethical choice because I am not sure there is one, life is simply not black and white. Perhaps in time we will incorporate diamonds from vetted, specific artisanal mining communities or come to make a U-turn on lab-grown diamonds as the industry matures and more is understood, but regardless, we are always willing to discuss the ethical choices of ourselves and our Client in the hope that together we can make the best ethical choice and in the spirit of Victor Frankl, find our own way.
Keen to know more about ethically sourced diamonds? Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or browse our selection of ethical diamonds here https://www.jacquelineandedward.com/diamond-rings/