From mine-to-market: how to buy coloured gems ethically
Coloured gemstones are the luxury must-have fashion trend, but customers shouldn’t have to choose between fair trade and fair prices, writes London DE’s Phil Spencer.
Emerald, sapphire, ruby and other coloured gemstones are enjoying a fashion renaissance. Royalty, movie stars and celebrities have popularised coloured gems as the ultimate luxury jewellery accessory.
For millennial customers keen to buy something special, unique, and perhaps different to the typical diamond ring, ethical buying is also a top priority.
But it’s a myth that a discerning customer should pay a premium to buy gems ethically. Fair-trade ethics and a fair price tag doesn’t mean a trade-off! At London DE we’re dedicated to that promise.
Firstly, you should expect transparency. Jewellers should be as clear about the provenance of their gemstones as the clarity of the jewels themselves.
Gemstones should come with the correct certification. Having the official paperwork for a stone is how a jeweller can demonstrate its origin, quality and characteristics to the customer.
Don’t shop with a jeweller who can’t tell you where a stone came from, or one who can’t reassure you that it’s been fairly traded.
At London DE, we certify all our stones with some of the world’s leading gem labs, such as the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America), CD TEC Colombia, Gübelin Gemmological Laboratory and SSEF Switzerland and standards setters, such as the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) Created in the UK as a hallmark for British quality jewellery.
Traceability is crucial. That’s because as a basic rule of thumb, the fewer hands a gemstone has passed through before it reaches the end consumer the better.
And this is when a fair price comes in. Fewer middlemen, from mine-to-market, doesn’t just create confidence about a stone’s provenance. It also means fewer people taking a cut along the way, achieving a more competitive price for you, the customer.
Take Emeralds. These beautiful green gems are a focus for us. They can come from many places around the globe, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, East Africa, Brazil and Colombia. Regrettably, some of the operators in these regions exploit workers and local populations.
We want to know where a stone came from as much as you do. And we think the best emeralds are mined in Colombia. At London DE, we ethically source our stones from Colombia’s famous Chivor, Cosceuz and Muzo mines.
We achieve this by going to source and flying out to Colombia, and the other key coloured gemstone producing regions (when Covid-19 travel restrictions allow). We ask the key questions about where a rock came from and we buy the finest quality emeralds as locally as possible.
To pick out the perfect gemstone the customer shouldn’t have to be an expert on ethical sourcing or gemstone quality – but your jeweller should be. The key is to know the mine of origin and to understand the ethical priorities of the operators of that production centre.