As jewelers, we often hear concern from our clients about the ethics of sourcing gemstones for their custom piece. Are they conflict free? How do we know? Are there other alternatives?
If you want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, rest assured—there are lots of options for you! Though there are still conflicts and unethical practices in many parts of the world, public awareness has truly changed the game. It is now easier than ever to wear conflict-free jewelry.
Conflict-Free Gemstones and Diamonds
The first thing most people think of when it comes to ethical jewelry is the concept of blood diamonds. Customers want to make sure they are not financing a war on the other side of the world. Luckily, there are now more options than ever before so you can feel good about what you’re wearing.
Ask your jeweler to only show diamonds and gemstones that are guaranteed to be conflict-free, such as CanadaMark diamonds, Arizona peridot, or blue topaz mined in Texas. If you don’t want to worry about questionable origins in your jewelry, simply let your jeweler know. We are here to help!
Lab-Grown Diamonds and Gemstones
If you want to avoid the drama of mined stones altogether, lab-growns are a wonderful alternative. They are chemically identical to their mined counterparts, which many people do not realize. They think “lab-grown” equates to “fake”, but nothing could be further from the truth. Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds!
There is a big difference between a LAB-GROWN stone and an imitation. Lab-grown stones are real stones! The only difference is that these diamonds and gemstones are grown in high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) laboratories as opposed to being dug out of the earth. These labs are energy-conscious and expend almost no emissions.
SIMULANTS, however, are just that—imitated. They are not the real deal, just meant to look similar. There are myriad downsides to imitations, chief of which being lack of durability. They will not stand the test of time.
Lab-grown diamonds and gemstones have the same chemical compositions as their mined. It is often difficult (or impossible) for even experienced gemologists to determine whether some stones are lab-grown or mined. The technology is impressive and ever-improving.
So go for it! Ask your jeweler to show you some lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, or gemstones for your new piece. You won’t be disappointed!
Reuse and Recycle
One thing clients and jewelers alike tend to gloss over is the source of the metal itself. Though not as infamous as the diamond mines, gold mines can sometimes suffer from the same problems. Be aware that you have an option to choose guaranteed recycled gold when making a new piece. No need to roll the dice with your metal origins! All you have to do is ask.
Much of the time, clients will bring in old pieces—perhaps inherited pieces that are in bad shape or out of style, single earrings with missing counterparts, bits and pieces, kinked chains, you name it. Hold onto every bit of gold you can, and ask to use it when casting a new piece! That way, not only are you doing your part by recycling your own gold, but you can imbue your new piece with special meaning by making it out of jewelry that your loved ones have worn in the past.
Though using your own gold can be a great option, it is important to note that it is not the best solution for every new piece. Not all jewelers will do this for every piece or even recommend it. You never know how many repairs have been done on old jewelry, and there may be all kinds of solder or different alloys mixed together. The casting may not come out well. So if you are making a piece that will have several small prongs, for example, melting down your old gold is probably not for you. Or at least, you may want to choose one sentimental piece to melt along with “new” recycled gold purchased through your jeweler.
You can also repurpose old stones! It’s true what they say: Diamonds are forever. If you have jewelry hidden away around in your safety deposit box, don’t be afraid to give your old diamonds and gemstones some new life with a new setting! Your jeweler can work with you to set those family stones in a brand-new piece—one you will actually want to wear.
The Changing Industry
Famous for being an “old-world” industry, jewelry as we know it is now changing as never before. New technologies and public concern about sustainable, ethical consumerism are helping to guide all aspects of our lives. Your jewelry needn’t be any different. With choices like conflict-free diamonds, lab-grown gems, and recycled gold, you can feel good about supporting the causes you care about while still reveling in the joy of jewelry!