We have assurances from all our gemstone suppliers that they are not buying from anyone who uses restrictive labour practices or child labour. We generally use gemstone dealers who travel all over the world actually visiting the places they are buying from, and they are experts in small far away conflicts. The goalposts between what is responsible to buy and what will go to fund something undesirable keep changing, but we have built up relationships with people we trust to keep up with this and to do the right thing.
It's important to us that our dealers keep using their judgement responsibly and buying from people who are doing a good job in less well-developed countries. Your jewellery allows people to feed their families and brings money into communities who otherwise would have very little to keep body and soul together.
As members of the Responsible Jewellery Council, one of the things we're really excited about is that they are building a process of gemstone certification right through the supply chain, so it won't just be a question of finding people we trust, there will be independent certification of the work that we're doing. The RJC already audits for diamonds, gold and platinum group metals and we feel that this extra step can only improve working practices and trust in the jewellery industry. They started with diamonds, which are the highest value gemstones and so attract the most problems, but because we have always worked with our coloured gemstone suppliers to make sure that the gems we buy for your jewellery are sourced as responsibly as possible, our suppliers will be ready to step up and get certified when the time comes.
We can also source synthetic gemstones. Chemically, these are real gemstones but they have been produced in a laboratory in the space of weeks or months rather than deep underground over the course of millions of years. They tend to have good clarity because there are no impurities present while the crystal is forming and synthetic diamonds can be treated to change into different colours. Some people love them because no mining has taken place but the amount of energy that has to go into creating crystals and then growing them is huge and this can make them more expensive than people expect. We are also wary of this energy use and what it might mean environmentally, and the fact that mining supports millions of people all over the world who often have no other access to employment. If we were to only buy synthetic gemstones these people would have no other work and wouldn’t be able to support their families.
The technology behind the creation of synthetic gemstones is improving rapidly, which means prices are coming down. This is great for customers who don’t like the idea of new mining as it is making things more accessible; however it does mean their jewellery is likely to devalue. We actually have some synthetic diamonds that we have had to reduce in price as their value has gone down already.
We're always really pleased to talk to customers about any of their ethical concerns- if we haven't answered your questions here just ask us!