At Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Bespoke Jewellery we are consistently evaluating our impact on the world and how we can make our little corner better. The new year brings new opportunities to do this and gives us the chance to think about what we are doing and how we can improve things further in the coming year.
In November, the De Beers Group released their Diamond Impact Report Sustainability: Shaping the Future of the Diamond Sector. It was really interesting to see how it confirmed our thoughts and experiences of what has been going on within the jewellery industry recently. It’s a long read (59 pages!) so we have summarised the points that felt most important to us here.
Events of the last year in particular have demonstrated that the sustainability movement has gained irreversible momentum. Driven by scientists, investors, governments, NGOs and consumers, it is now shown that not only is it ethical to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues; it is critical to good business. We have always believed this to be the case, which is why we have kept ethical considerations at the heart of our work from the very beginning. Interestingly, according to the report, the demand for sustainable, environmental jewellery in Google search trends has accelerated and doubled over the past 10 years. In fact, jewellery now ranks third after only food and clothing as the category most frequently purchased on the basis of sustainability considerations. And when it comes to diamond jewellery, around a third of global consumers value sustainability the most (above price, design and size) when choosing a natural diamond. This is why our designers are always so keen to talk to our customers about the ethics behind their jewellery – many people just do not know that more ethical options are available until they have had a chat to one of our team! We know that when someone is considering an emotional purchase as significant as an engagement ring, for example, the idea that the people behind the scenes have been treated well gives the jewellery an even more positive feel. We are proud of the fact that the jewellery we make has had a good soul before it has even been worn.
According to the report, “Younger consumers are driving the demand for more transparency and integrity, with 68 per cent of Millennials and 65 per cent of Gen Z having purchased products with stronger ESG credentials, compared with 42 per cent of Baby Boomers. Sustainability considerations are higher among consumers with a higher education (67 per cent) and those from affluent backgrounds (70 per cent).” These figures show us why more and more customers are asking us about the ethics of our jewellery. We have a very wide and diverse customer base, and it’s encouraging to see that the work we have put in over the years means that we can be supportive of the ethical choices that new generations feel are right for them.
One of the big choices that these generations now face is between natural and laboratory created diamonds. The De Beers report shows that a well-regulated diamond industry has the power to positively transform the lives of individuals, communities and therefore entire countries. This often happens in remote locations where jobs are scarce and revenues are badly needed. De Beers obviously aren’t going to be quite so keen on the idea of laboratory created diamonds as other people might be, but even if we acknowledge this bias, their report still highlights to us the importance of continuing to buy natural diamonds for our jewellery. Laboratory created stones are an important ethical option for people who are trying to avoid mining altogether, but we feel that this positive transformation is one of the main reasons that laboratory grown diamonds should not be considered the only option. (From a personal perspective, we have also realised that we cannot encourage change in the natural diamond industry if we have divorced ourselves from it entirely!)
We are so pleased to have been involved in the changes that have been happening within the jewellery industry – it’s in a completely different place to when Harriet started the company. This report highlights to us not only that we are going in the right direction, but that we are not the only travellers on this road, which is heartening. The movement needs to continue so that we can iron out the injustices throughout the jewellery supply chain. As it states in the report, “Action is required by all”.
Read the full report here.