When choosing your rough diamond, it's important to know exactly why it's ethically sourced, and what, exactly, that means. And, defining ethical sourcing is tricky because in some very interesting ways it's subjective. Anyway, no matter how you look at it, here are four factors to consider when defining how "ethical" a rough diamond is:
- The way it was mined
- The social impact
- The environmental impact
- How business is conducted.
Rough diamonds are typically mined in two ways - alluvial (riverbed or artisanal) mining or open pit mining. We typically source our rough diamonds from modern open pit mines where the companies are required to follow strict procedures regarding: health and safety of employees, protection of the surrounding environment and local communities from dangers as a result of the mining process, planning of the closure of the mine so that ecosystems are rehabilitated or unaffected, annual reporting of sustainability procedures, providing benefits and mitigating impacts on indigenous peoples surrounding the mining facility, and continual assessing the impact on the surrounding environment and communities in order to minimize and mitigate any risks, and monitoring for toxic pollution.
Sourcing from alluvial (artisanal) miners could, theoretically, be a better ethical alternative. However, with this more traditional and local method of mining, we cannot assure that the diamonds were not mined by children, that workers were paid fairly, and that the mining was done in a safe manner both for the workers and for the environment.
The work force that brings a diamond from the earth to the market is one of the most important aspects of ethical sourcing. Workers must be treated fairly. In addition, the communities and indigenous peoples surrounding the mines must also be managed and supported appropriately according to the impact that could bear upon them.
Ethical sourcing requires that laborers are paid fairly and on time, that they have appropriate employment contracts, that the health and safety of the workers is upheld according to the highest standards of local law, that there is no discrimination in hiring practices or in the field, that child labor (as defined by local law) is not employed, that forced labor is not used in any part of the diamond supply chain, and that there is a deep commitment to respecting internationally recognized human rights.
Both types of raw diamond mining have deep environmental impacts. Open pit mining is, basically, a deep hole in the earth. Alluvial mining reroutes rivers and negatively impacts local wildlife. So, in order to claim that a rough diamond is ethically mined, the environment must be considered a major factor. Mining companies must be committed to alleviating and mitigating any environmental concerns according to international law. For mining, this means managing waste, conducting environmental audits in surrounding areas, planning for mine closure and rebuilding of the environment in the area of the mine. While this is an imperfect solution (because mining, in general, is bad for the environment), ethical mining does its best to minimize its negative impact on the environment.
This aspect of sourcing rough diamonds is the most important to us, specifically, because it actually involves our personal action in the process. The businesses that procure and sell raw diamonds (like us!) must be committed to the highest ethical standards. This means, first and utmost, that we must be dedicated to combating fraud and dishonesty in all business practices. In addition to this, we must be commited to the industry adopted Kimberley Process in assuring that our diamonds are considered "conflict-free". And, we must disclose as much information about our product as we are aware of when selling our rough diamonds to our customers.
Finally, if you have any specific questions about any of the above, feel free to be in direct touch with us. We are happy to answer your questions! We will also be adding new blog posts on each of these topics in the future to go into greater detail. So, stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter below in order to get the updates.