Jewellery Focus May 2019 - Page 26

FEATURE FEATURE David Rhode explores how Jewellery is an area in which many millennials are still making unsustainable choices, in many cases due to an absence of honest dialogue around the diamond industry M ‘‘ 6 MAY 2019 | WWW.JEWELLERYFOCUS.CO.UK ‘‘ Unsustainable choices Buying from a jeweller who sources their diamonds from a Canadian mine, such as the Ekati and Diavik mines, means you’re safe, as they will be able to produce certificates to show you exactly where your diamond came from illennials have developed a well-earned reputation as a hyper- conscious generation, thinking carefully about what they consume and how they consume it. Lots of young people are taking individual action to improve our planet; travelling more responsibly, banishing single use plastics and straws, rejecting meat, and recycling all that they can. But there’s something crucial being overlooked, which is having a devastating impact on the health of our planet; and that’s the jewellery industry. Jewellery is an area in which many millennials are still making unsustainable choices, in many cases due to an absence of honest dialogue around the diamond industry in the mainstream media, which could help millennials make better informed purchasing decisions. We’re inundated with news stories about the latest celebrity engagements - with the 20 carat diamond ring Alex Rodriguez put on Jennifer Lopez’s finger the most recent example - but hear nothing of where these diamonds came from, and the impact their production is having on our planet. The recent ruling that Zimbabwean diamonds are in fact ‘blood diamonds’ demonstrates that there’s still a great deal going on under the surface when it comes to the diamond industry, and that the industry is still facing a number of issues which are far from resolved. Despite the fact that an awareness of ‘blood diamonds’ and their implications has grown significantly in recent years (largely thanks to Edward Zwick’s 2006 film of that name), many consumers are still unaware of the very real impact irresponsible diamond mining is having on our planet, and the questions they must ask jewellers in order to ensure they’re buying a piece that’s sustainable and conflict-free. The Kimberley Process is a certification process which (in theory) ensures no blood diamonds enter circulation. Established in 2003, the Kimberley Process aims to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the supply chain, by only working with officially certified mines; but according to a recent YouGov survey carried out with ethical jewellers Ingle & Rhode, 80% of respondents hadn’t even heard of it. This isn’t catastrophic - the Kimberley Process is very outdated and no longer fit for purpose - but it does indicate a severe lack of education and understanding surrounding the diamond industry and its environmental shortcomings. The reality is that poorly regulated - or in some cases entirely unregulated - diamond mines are destroying ecosystems and displacing communities; and despite its good intentions, the Kimberley Process has not been successful in eradicating the circulation of conflict diamonds, nor protecting workers. Diamonds from conflict regions are often smuggled into ‘certified’ exports, meaning the process cannot guarantee that a diamond is conflict-free, or that the people mining, cutting and polishing diamonds are working in safe conditions for a fair wage. Even more telling: when those intending on getting engaged were asked about the most important aspects of the ring, quality, price and bespoke design came off as the most important factors. Less than 10% of respondents mentioned ethical sourcing. This comes despite the fact that 60% of people said they consider ethical sourcing when making other purchases. If, as stats suggest, 75% of millennials are willing to pay extra for environmentally sustainable goods, and the number of vegans the world over has more than quadrupled in the last five years, why aren’t we putting the jewellery industry under scrutiny for its unsustainable practices? Millions of young people are being spurred into action by the impact meat production is having on our planet, and the way in which animals MAY 2019 | WWW.JEWELLERYFOCUS.CO.UK 7