Alongside our autumn Fair Luxury Open House events, a series of webinars and talks on the theme of diamonds and the ethical issues and challenges faced and created by the diamond industry have been taking place across the globe. These eye-opening and positive events shine a light on what needs to change in the industry and offer possibilities for change.
We all know that the lack of traceability in diamond supply chains is a huge issue. Knowing the origin and the path is the first step to know if diamonds are mined, cut, and processed with humanitarian and environmental considerations. The webinar will explore how Blockchain and other emerging technologies can and are beginning to be used to help supply chains be traceable and accountable.
Other subjects addressed with open eyes and a realistic perspective to date include: Human rights violations in the Kimberley Process, environmental destruction, the diamond industry viewed through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The great thing is that alongside highlighting the problems are proposals for solutions and positive activities that have been implemented to date.
Thank you Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, Diamonds for Peace and others for creating a critical mass of content and to Human Rights Watch, The International Peace Information Service (IPIS), the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition and everyone who is bringing these important matters to the fore.
We’ll be addressing some difficult questions and challenges:
What the Kimberley Process is and what it isn’t. Flaws and potential solutions.
What it is really like on the ground; what would improve the situation? What if everyone just bought lab grown diamonds?
Our own Clara Breen and David Crump will host with guest speakers who have experience in African diamond mining and have conducted independent research in the field. Their short presentations will be followed by small group discussions, a chance to reflect and connect with others on what you’ve heard and learned.
Shamiso Mtisi Deputy Director at the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association and Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition Coordinator
Hans Merket Researcher, International Peace Information Service (IPIS Research)
Chie Murakami Founder & Director General, NGO Diamonds for Peace
This session will round up the Fair Luxury Open House series on diamonds and their impact on people and planet. We’ve looked at natural diamonds and mining, explored developments and challenges in the lab-grown diamond industry and faced up to some of the challenges and changes in the industry, including a hard look at the Kimberley Process. Together we are developing our understanding of the ethics of this most fascinating of gemstones and finding out about the diamond industry in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. You can find out more about the UNSDGs here.
Get together with the ethical jewellery community and find support on your fair jewellery journey. Established designers, makers, new graduates and independent businesses – whatever stage of the ethical sourcing journey you’re at, you are very welcome.
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Those of us with long standing commitment to ethical sourcing have been working towards creating greater public awareness of the somewhat murkier challenges faced by the jewellery industry for some time now. It is often a difficult message to convey to an audience previously unaware that such issues exist and a tricky subject to broach with those only wishing to feel joy and hope for their own future with the purchase of that special ring.
How can something so representative of love be tainted by the struggles of those in the supply chain that created it?
Fifteen years ago, Hollywood focused public attention on the atrocities committed in the sourcing of what had become known as a ‘Blood Diamond’ with its release of a film of that name. However, since then wider public awareness has somewhat plateaued. Have we simply assumed that because there has been a film about it the issues highlighted have somehow been resolved?
We in the privileged western world are continuing to realise the power we hold as consumers but that can be overwhelming. Can we find ourselves dampened by a feeling of eco overload when everything that we choose to spend our money on seems to have some negative impact on our precious planet somewhere down the line?
Independent jewellers have long been conscientiously sharing their own best practice with their individual client bases and the number of such jewellers committed to ethical practice has grown exponentially over recent years – but it has still been a story that’s fermenting rather than exploding. Reaching a wider audience takes a louder voice.
And so, to see an entire feature in September’s edition of British Vogue dedicated to ethical sourcing and transparency in the supply chain does feel like a pretty substantial bump up the ladder.
The global fashion behemoth has again put itself one step ahead of what its readership wants before they knew they want it and dedicated a glossy 4-page spread – dripping with gorgeous jewels – to discuss, in user friendly terms, the complexities of today’s jewellery industry.
In an edition dedicated entirely to defining what modern activism looks like, Vogue UK’s Jewellery and Watch Director Rachel Garrahan digs into the many challenges facing the jewellery industry supply chain but also celebrates its many achievements.
‘Now more than ever, jewellers are committing to responsible sourcing via supply chains as lucid as the gems themselves’ she writes. ‘In a global jewellery industry estimated to be worth £230 billion, there is a growing demand among consumers to be able to make ethically sound choices’
The article features sound bites from numerous long committed jewellers alongside a dazzling display of the precious creations themselves – such as those of Fair Luxury friend and co-conspirator Ute Decker. In addition to the glossy images it is also pleasing to see a number of the development initiatives and supply chain trailblazers gain recognition – including our very own, ever glamorous and fashion forward Stuart Pool of Nineteen48!
In the long game towards creating a more transparent and responsible business practice this is an encouraging indication of what can be achieved with greater consumer awareness. The continued commitment of those working in all sectors of our industry combined with our shared collaborative passion means that we can enjoy, with growing confidence, a sense that we are moving towards something that can sincerely be defined as Fair Luxury.
Our second Open House will take place on Friday 28th August, 4-5pm BST. Thank you to everyone who participated in July, we hope you found it fruitful and look forward to seeing everyone who can join us next time. This month’s theme for discussion is Does sustainability kill the romance of selling jewellery?
Do you ever speak with your clients about the serious issues in ‘standard’ practices in metal or gemstone mining (e.g. child labour, mercury etc…) to encourage them to choose the more sustainable options? Do you find that speaking about those issues kills the romance of the jewellery buying experience?
We will have a similar format to last month with small breakout groups for the middle section of the Open House. with participants asked to have a think about three questions beforehand which we will discuss in small groups.
-What options do you offer your clients?
-What response have you had from them?
-In what ways have you raised this topic effectively?
The Fair Luxury Open House is an opportunity to connect with the ethical jewellery community and find support on your fair jewellery journey.
Are you interested in more ethical sourcing in your jewellery-making practice or business? Or perhaps you’ve started on the journey, but at times it can feel like you’re swimming against the tide.
You are not alone!
Join Fair Luxury Open House on Zoom for an informal monthly get together to find support, learn and exchange on all things relating to ethical jewellery practices: sourcing, making tips, and much more. By nurturing a sense of human connection and sharing information we can support each other and help to focus our individual intentions. Established designers, makers, new graduates and independent businesses – whatever stage of the ethical sourcing journey you’re at, you are very welcome.
Our first event took place on Friday 31st July 2020, with a short introduction followed by a breakout into smaller groups of four or five people, each led by a Fair Luxury team member. We explored the challenges we have encountered, discussed progress made and covered any concerns and areas people want to learn more about. We concluded by rejoining the main group and comparing notes on what was discussed in the small group sessions.
Sessions last for an hour in total and are not currently recorded as the Open House is designed to be a space for sharing information and finding peer support in confidence. However we do intend to pick up on any areas of common interest at future events.
Open House free to join via signing up on Eventbrite and you can find details for each meeting on our featured post – so keep an eye out for monthly updates.
In a very short space of time, the Black Lives Matter campaign has amplified awareness of racism in its many forms and given fresh voice to the experience of injustice and inequality faced by Black people. It has also caused many to reflect on the white privilege they’d never considered and address their accountability in both unconscious and conscious racial bias. This is a historic moment and must not pass without real change being the result.
What are we and our industry doing to make change?
The activity of Fair Luxury is often associated with materials sourcing and the supply chain but when we use the work “equitable” to describe the kind of jewellery industry we want to see, it includes reflecting the diversity of our society and ensuring the colour of someone’s skin is not a barrier to entry and opportunity in the trade.
Looking at the following definition, we know that that silence and passivity will not tackle inequality or bring about change in society: “Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” (NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity from http://www.aclrc.com/antiracism-defined)
Fair Luxury acknowledges that good intentions are not enough to bring about change in our jewellery industry and we believe that, from educators to businesses to institutions, we need to proactively address and counter systemic and structural racism at all levels.
Working for equality and human rights is as important and urgent as tackling the climate crisis if we are serious about a sustainable future for humankind. Both call for action, whether we consider ourselves campaigners or not.
The NAJ and the Goldsmiths’ Company have released statements in response to the new awareness of racism, click their names to link to the statements.