When it comes to buying jewellery, your purchase often represents a sizeable investment. It’s an exciting time, but the decision-making process is one that involves a lot of thinking. Before you hand over hundreds or even thousands of pounds, you want to make sure that the piece you select is the perfect pick.
There are lots of points to consider, from price to style to the stones used. There is also an additional factor for many modern purchasers to take into account: the ethics behind your investment.
As our social awareness grows, most of us are becoming increasingly conscious of how our actions impact the world around us. When we make purchases, we like to know that our choice of product is doing as little harm as possible, both to the environment and to those who produced it.
For those buying diamond jewellery, this can be particularly poignant. With many issues associated with specific sectors of the industry, it can be hard to know whether or not your diamonds come from an ethical source.
We’ve written this article and to try and make it easier for you. With this in mind, here are our four top tips on how to avoid buying unethical jewellery.
Research Your Jeweller Online
If you’re one of the many individuals, who care about where your jewellery comes from, one of the most important things you can do is to research your chosen jeweller before making a purchase. Although this might seem rather complicated, there are some relatively easy ways to gain insight into how they work.
You can begin by taking a look at their website. Most of those involved in the industry recognise the ever-growing appetite for ethically sourced products, so those who purchase from reputable producers will usually advertise this fact online. As well as explicit statements to this effect, other signs that they’re committed to supporting improvements in the industry include both the funding of projects in communities where diamonds are sourced and the promotion of initiatives which support the ethical production of these gemstones.
Reach Out To Unbiased Sources
If your preferred jeweller’s website is a little scarce on information, there are other ways to do some digging. You’ll find that most retailers will have been reviewed online, with unbiased sources such as Trustpilot often providing additional insights. If this still doesn’t prove helpful, you have another option: get in touch with the Responsible Jewellery Council. Dedicated to monitoring suppliers, they should be able to provide you with the material you need to make an informed decision.
Speak To Your Chosen Jeweller Before Buying
While doing your research should help you to spot any visible warning signs, merely stating that products are ethically sourced online is not enough of a guarantee in and of itself. That’s why we suggest that before proceeding to purchase, you speak to the jeweller either face-to-face, over the phone or via email.
They should be able to tell you more about the origins of the diamonds or other gemstones used in the piece of jewellery you’re interested in so that you can be sure that these come from a reputable source. Vague answers are not good enough, and you’re not obliged to take anyone at their word unless you feel entirely comfortable doing so. If the jeweller cannot provide substantial evidence that they’re complying with the sanctions set out by fair mining initiatives, this is often a warning that the jewellery may come from slightly murky origins, and you’re perfectly entitled to walk away if you’re not satisfied with the responses given.
Avoid Diamonds Sourced From Conflict Zones
One of the most significant ethical problems associated with diamond mining is that gemstones are often sourced from conflict zones, where corruption is rife, and very little of the money made goes to the workers. Despite countries like Sierra Leone, for example, making around $250 million each year off the back of this industry, it continues to number among the slowest developing nations in the world, with terrible living conditions for the majority of locals. To avoid supporting such unjust industry practices, it’s therefore recommended that you avoid any diamonds sourced from parts of the world where war and conflict exist.
While it’s right, there are specific schemes that exist in these areas. Most experts recommend steering clear of gems unless you’re confident that they come from one of these initiatives. This means that diamonds that can be traced back to Zimbabwe, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ivory Coast, and Liberia are best avoided, while those from Canada, Australia, and Namibia are likely to be much less problematic.
When it comes to sourcing jewellery, it’s impossible to say at first glance whether or not it’s been ethically sourced. Diamonds that come from the heart of a war zone look much the same as those produced by fair trade initiatives, and yet the human cost behind them is very different.
That’s why, as an ethical consumer, it’s down to you to make sure that any jewellery you invest in has come from a source that does as much as possible to minimise the potentially negative impacts of the diamond mining industry – both on local communities and the environment.
While this puts the burden of responsibility onto your shoulders, it’s essential to realise that when it comes to finding the jewellery, you can trust, it’s simpler than you think: you need to know the right questions to ask and where to look for the information you require. Follow our four top tips, and you’ll have all of the material you need to make an informed and ethical decision.