Many jewellery companies now make ethical claims about their products, and as always it is wise to exercise caution. A genuine ethical jeweller will be able to tell you where their products have been sourced, and provide some detail about the communities that have supplied the raw materials. Transparency and traceability are the key issues so it should be fairly obvious to prospective buyers whether retailers genuinely know their supply chains.
The sector doesn’t fit very neatly into our existing ethiscore system. Instead we’ve selected five jewellers we are happy to recommend. Most featured positively in Earthworks and the No Dirty Gold campaign recent “Tarnished Gold?” report, which assessed the jewellery industry's progress on ethical sourcing of metals. Companies were rated in the report against the campaign’s “Golden Rules,”with Fairtrade gold pioneers CRED receiving the highest rating.
Golden Rules score: 11.5 out of 16
A contemporary jewellery designer and maker who works with responsibly sourced gold from co-operative mines, mined in accordance with Fairtrade and Fairmined Standards. Uses recycled silver, traceable diamonds from Canada and lab-grown coloured gems. Re-designs existing jewellery for re-use.
Studio in North Devon and attends craft and jewellery fairs in other locations.
Tel: 07773 709334
Golden Rules score: 13.5 out of 16
Founder members of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and Fairtrade jewellery pioneers, CRED has been instrumental in making Fairtrade gold and platinum a reality, through its work with the Columbian co-operative Oro Verde. Continues to campaign for Fairtrade standards throughout jewellery supply chain.
In the absence of a supply of fresh silver that meets ethical standards, CRED use 100% recycled silver sourced from the UK, but continues to seek supplies of silver that meet Fairtrade criteria. “We're trying our hardest!” according to Business Director Christian Cheesman. Uses fully traceable diamonds sourced from Canada, Australia and Namibia. Coloured gemstones come with a certificate of origin. Supply chain policy published on website.
Studios in London and Chichester, plus stockists, including Element Jewellery (www.elementjewellery.com).
Tel: 01243 773588
Golden Rules score: 11.5 out of 16.
Jeweltree Foundation License Holder. Founder Vivien Johnston is Chair and co-founder of the British Ethical Jewellery Association. Company is actively engaged with multi-stakeholder initiatives such as ARM and Communities & Small Scale Mining (CASM), thus driving positive change in the sector.
Sources gold and platinum from community mines in Argentina and Columbia which are Fair Trade compliant as well as meeting ecological criteria. Uses fully traceable diamonds from mines and polishing workshops which comply with ethical criteria. Gems sourced only from traceable, ethical sources.
Tel: 0208 133 2531 or 07789 224705
Ingle and Rhode
Golden Rules score: 13 out of 16.
Sources fair trade gold from the EcoAndina Foundation in the north-west of Argentina and from Oro Verde in Colombia. Uses fully traceable Canadian diamonds, and cut and polished under fair pay and conditions, and produced in a way that minimises environmental impact. Does not use silver. Sources rubies and sapphires from small-scale cooperatives in the Global South. Gemstones cut and polished in good conditions
Offers transparency and traceability for every aspect their jewellery: gemstones, metals and labour. Also sources lab grown diamonds produced in the USA and cut in South Africa.
Tel: 020 3468 6592
Oria Ethical Jewellery
Recently signed up to Golden Rules: score not yet available.
Gold sourced from Eco Andia cooperative mines in Argentina. Fairly traded silver from artisanal miners in Bolivia. Traceable diamonds from mines in Canada and Australia sourced “wherever possible”. Gemstones from Brazil, Kenya and Tanzania.
Studio in London, plus stockists, including Element Jewellery (www.elementjewellery.com).
Tel: 020 8133 4518
International Jeweltree Foundation
There are a growing number of jewellers who know their supply chains and only source from places that they are con?dent meet social and environmental standards. Organisations such as the Jeweltree Foundation help to make this a reality by supplying retailers with gemstones and precious metals with guaranteed supply chain transparency. Their diamonds are sourced from places such as the Liqhobong Diamond Cooperative, a women’s mining co-operative in Lesotho.
Many ethical jewellery companies offer recycled silver products, and while some jewellers offer ‘fairly traded’ silver, there is no Fairtrade Foundation certi?cation for silver.
Laboratory grown diamonds
Laboratory grown diamonds, also called synthetic or cultured diamonds, are now a commercial reality in the jewellery industry. Identical in chemical composition to natural diamonds, and substantially cheaper, they are an obvious way to avoid purchasing blood diamonds. However, question marks remain over the environmental impact of the manufacturing process and the working conditions in laboratories, many of which are reportedly in Asia.
Retailer Vivien Johnston says she has been unable to access much information about employee conditions and auditable standards: “Nobody trying to sell me them has been able to tell me”. Johnston and Cheesman also concur that buying lab grown diamonds displaces the development potential of responsibly sourced natural diamonds.
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