When you go grocery shopping, it’s pretty easy to tell if your food is ethically sourced: it’s right there on the package. Even beauty products, clothes, and many household goods have some indicator on their tags and labels that they’re cruelty-free and eco-friendly. But with jewelry, it’s not always so clear.
In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to create an international certification scheme to standardize requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade. Two years later, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was born, and by 2003, participating countries -- including the US -- began implementing KPCS rules. However, this program has limitations, as it doesn’t necessarily address the issues surrounding conflict diamonds such as child labor and environmental destruction.
Today, many diamond retailers are making the move toward diamonds that are 100% free of associations with environmental and human rights violations. It’s a great start -- but these diamonds might not be visibly labeled as such, and jewelers are even less likely to disclose when their gems are KPCS-certified but not totally conflict-free. So, to help discerning shoppers, we’ve made this brief guide to help you check if you’re making a socially-conscious purchase.
1. Do Your Research
The most important first step is to do your research and know what you are looking for. Often, jewelers who offer conflict-free diamonds will have this information available on their website. They should also have information about the precious metals used in their jewelry.
If this information isn’t online, you will have to dig deeper. Asking questions about the sourcing of your gems and metals will allow you to make an educated, socially responsible purchase.
2. Ask to See Certification
To know the true history of your diamond, you will want to see the diamond’s System of Warranties. Reviewing a diamond’s documentation will help to ensure your diamond or gemstone was sourced ethically.
3. Check the Origins
As a general rule, avoid diamonds from countries known for violations:
· Democratic Republic of Congo
· Côte d'Ivoire
Instead, look for diamonds mined in countries where stricter standards are enforced:
· Sierra Leone
4. Don't be Afraid to Ask the Hard Questions
Questions you should consider asking are:
· What are your ethical sourcing standards?
· Where can I find your company policies on diamond sourcing?
· Where are your diamonds mined?
· Can you track the origins of your diamonds?
· Do you stand by your diamonds ethical standards and can you back it up with documentation?
5. Beware of Vague Answers
Reputable jewelers will be able to answer your questions regarding ethically-sourced gems and gemstone certification.
Your questions should elicit information about labor laws, environmental conditions, and certifications in the history and sourcing of a specific diamond. A retailer should have their company policy on ethical sourcing readily available for their customers.
Any jeweler who does not have this information with credible documentation should be avoided.
6. Know Your Options
If you’re still not convinced you’re purchasing a conflict-free item, you can explore non-mined diamond options including loose lab-created diamonds and the diamond-like gemstone, moissanite.
At Icing On The Ring, we are committed to providing high-quality, ethically sourced diamonds. If you’d like to learn more about lab-created diamonds vs. real diamonds, other synthetic vs. real diamonds, and see a moissanite vs. diamond side-by-side, give us a call or stop by our downtown LA showroom. We’re happy to discuss your options and find jewelry that is up to your responsible buying standards.
Learn more here.