The Supply Chain
There are currently no established bodies that trace the gemstone supply chain from mine to market, making transparent ethical sourcing of gemstones more difficult than with diamonds and metals. Gemstones, have complex supply chains because they are usually mined, cut, and sold in different countries.
It is not uncommon to have a gemstone that is traceable to a reputable mine but has been cut elsewhere by workers who endure poor conditions. Another critical issue in the gemstone trade is the forced removal of indigenous communities, and the criminalisation of artisanal mining by indigenous peoples on their ancestral lands.
Despite the lack of transparency in the gemstone trade, there are a growing number of reputable suppliers who strive to closely track stones from mine to market, aiming to support environmental protection, fair labour practices, and a tight chain of custody to ensure traceability and transparency.
As there are no established accreditation bodies to vouch for this traceability, there is an element of trust involved in choosing gemstone suppliers. Developing an open dialogue with your stone supplier is key. Thankfully, there are trustworthy stone suppliers who are transparent about their supply chains and open to engaging with customers about their stones and the trade.
further reading on gemstone sourcingSustainable Gemstones Knowledge Library
where to source gemstones
To be confident in the ethical reputation of a gemstone supplier, choose companies that can illustrate traceable supply chains. Suppliers can do this by providing documentation such as images from the mines, cutting facilities, disclosure certificates, mining licenses etc and by answering some or all of the following types of questions.
Have they visited the mining sites they purchase from? Do they have evidence of this?
Have they visited the sites where their stones are cut? Do they have evidence of this?
If a supplier cannot provide evidence of their supply chains, ask why this is the case and if this is something they are working towards. Creating a meaningful dialogue about responsible sourcing with your supplier will be beneficial for you both and will help to improve the industry.
While the gemstone industry is still in need of improvement, there are three main options for responsibly sourced gemstones. These are:
- Gemstones with traceable supply chains illustrated by supplier documentation;
- Lab Grown gemstones and;
- Recycled gemstones.
For suppliers of each of these sources, click on the below.
Banner Image Credit: Capricorn Gems | Loose stones: Nineteen48, photography Andrew Neilson