Responsibly sourcing diamonds and gemstones presents different challenges to responsible metal sourcing, but it is achievable. Makers who are committed to ethical sourcing will need to find suppliers who are able to answer questions about the origins of their stones, and the conditions under which they were mined and cut.
We’ve explained some of the key terms and issues around stone sourcing below.
The Supply Chain
In terms of responsible sourcing, stone supply chains are more complicated than metal supply chains as there are fewer established certification systems in place. There are a handful of accreditation schemes for diamond sourcing, but currently none for gemstones.
Conditions of Mining
Stones are mined all over the world from countries with different political climates, workers’ rights and trade laws. The nature of the stone trade and the fact that many stones are extremely old, make them difficult to trace back to the mine of origin.
It is not uncommon for stones to be mined in one country, and cut and polished in another, which may have different working standards, making it even more difficult to trace the stone from mine to market.
There are a number of systems in place to trace diamonds to their source and certify mines that meet regulations and trade standards. Gemstones are more difficult to source responsibly as there are no accreditation systems in place.
There is no formal third-party assurance to back up claims made by gemstone suppliers, which means that purchasing responsibly sourced gemstones requires developing an open dialogue with gemstone suppliers.
Image Credit: Gemstones Brazil