Ethical Jewellery - the 3 E’s
Ethical Jewellery - an easy choice? Did you ever wonder where your jewellery comes from or how it was made? You’d be shocked to know the truth. Here, in the first of a series of articles on the subject, we discuss the current situation and present the 3 E’s of ethical jewellery.
The problem with diamond and gold jewellery today
For most people idea of diamonds and gold is an image of eternal beauty, unchanged and long lasting, the perfect statement of love and friendship. While this is true for the materials themselves, the production methods for high street jewellery, even in the 21st century, leave a lot of room for improvement. Though most consumers have heard of conflict or blood diamonds, the actual story of diamond and gold production is much more complex.
The most basic issue is that it's almost impossible to reliably answer the question: where did this gold or diamond come from? Where was it mined? Who produced the final cut stone or refined gold? What were the working conditions of the people who originally produced this material? Even a basic statement such as, from which country did this diamond or gold originate, is almost impossible to answer for the majority of diamonds retailed to consumers.
The Kimberly agreement on rough diamond trading has been shown to be deficient. Though an improvement over no system at all, many expert observers and organisations have highlighted the weak system that is the Kimberly agreement. The Kimberly agreement has failed to stop the link between diamonds and conflict - a problem neatly summarised by the UK Guardian newspaper in 2014.
The Fair Trade organisation has had some success in improving the lives and conditions for some of the mining workers involved in gold mining with their fairtrade gold initiative. This doesn’t yet stretch to include diamond mining, which is almost completely untouched by the Fairtrade movement. While we applaud Fairtrade for their efforts, we at De Vindt believe even Fairtrade gold is not enough. Only 100% re-cycled gold can provide meaningful improvement to our health, the environment and deliver the energy savings we need to really make an impact on the planet.
The three E’s - Ethics , Environment and Efficiency
For many years, the jewellery industry has successfully used the idea of the 4 C’s to make selecting and buying diamonds a more consistent and transparent process. The four C’s, Carat, Cut, Clarity and Colour have become the standard that all reputable fine jewellery companies use with their customers when trading diamonds.
De Vindt supports that approach and asks the industry focus on the 3 E’s of jewellery production. Ethics, Environment and Energy. Using these 3 parameters, customers can make informed choices when they buy diamond jewellery.
The first E - Ethics
To provide truly ethical jewellery, we as a company must work ethically. Not just by being ethical ourselves, but also with the raw materials we use in our products. For this reason we only use re-cycled gold, lab created diamonds and Canadian Diamonds.
Recycled Gold - Our re-cycled gold is 100% re-cycled and sourced locally within Northern Europe. It is not mixed with new mined gold, yet the quality is identical to traditional mined gold. We know where it comes from and we know who makes it, all of our gold comes from Benelux, yet it costs the same, there is no premium for buying fair.
Gold for re-cycling
Lab created diamonds - De Vindt lab diamonds are produced both in Europe and the US. Our lab diamonds are exactly the same chemically and physically as mined stones, except we know that no one was abused or harmed in their manufacture.
Canadian Diamonds - Canadian diamond mines are some of the most environmentally friendly and efficient mines in the world. While all types of mining are undesirable, Canadian mines are compact, modern and liaison with indigenous groups is exceptional. When buying De Vindt jewellery, customers can choose between ethical mined Canadian diamonds or Lab grown diamonds.
The second E - Environment
Mining of any type damages the environment. It can be difficult to reconcile the desire for beautiful jewellery with the damage that mining can produce. For this reason our preferred position is - no mining, but this is not yet possible. What we can do is only use re-cycled gold and maximise our use of lab grown diamonds such that our mining impact is as low as possible. Advances in lab diamond production in the future will mean a wider availability of lab grown stone sizes and shapes, further minimising our need for mined stones.
In our view, the worst form of mining is artisanal mining. Ungoverned and ad hoc, artisanal, or very small mines, often have limited or no provision to protect the environment and are some of the worlds most polluting production facilities. Mercury pollution by the worlds artisanal gold mines is the world's number one source of mercury pollution globally and is a top priority for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). De Vindt's policy is: No mined gold, minimal mining of all forms !!!
Artisanal gold mine in the Democratic Repulic of Congo (Reuters)
The third E - Energy
The third E is energy. What is the total energy cost of production?
Re-cycled gold has a much lower energy cost compared to mined gold, which has to be dug, refined and transported around the world. The energy used for production and transport of our re-cycled gold are negligible.
Lab created diamonds are created using minimal energy and power - needing about about one week to be grown. According to recent research by the sustainability team at the University of Vancouver, the total energy used to create lab diamonds is about 20% of the energy used for a typical mined diamond.
Our Canadian diamond production is less energy efficient than our lab diamonds production, however it still compares positively when compared with most diamond mines around the world.
Our focus on using energy efficient production methods feeds into lower energy usage overall, resulting in lower CO2 released into the atmosphere - something we all benefit from .
Image of lab diamond facility
About De Vindt
Diamonds today symbolise wealth, majesty and power, just as they did in ancient times. However, many consumers today are unaware of unprincipled methods used to mine diamonds across the world – so called, dirty mining. De Vindt only uses ethical diamonds – these are diamonds that have traceable origins. We know from where every stone came, from which country and which producer. Combined with our re-cycled only gold policy, De Vindt produces some of the most ethical and environmental jewellery available today.