Our guide to buying ethical jewellery
What questions do you need to ask when buying jewellery – whether it’s for you or someone else? The variety of jewellers available means you’re sure to find a design to suit any style or price range – but how do you know if you’re making the right choice?
Positive Luxury’s here to help with our guide to buying ethical jewellery…
Which jeweller is right for me?
Would you like to buy a ready-to-wear piece, or work with a jeweller to create a bespoke item? Bespoke can be more expensive, yet far more rewarding. For the latter, we recommend Stephen Webster’s bespoke jewellery service to create something truly unique, or try reworking a family heirloom.
Are you looking for something subtle that you can wear everyday, or a bold statement for special occasions? The one-of-a-kind pieces from Flamingo Jewellery place the gemstone as the design focus, for a bold effect that is sure to make heads turn at your next soiree.
What do I need to consider when choosing a diamond?
Diamonds are classified using the four C’s – cut, clarity, colour and carat.
British jeweller Arctic Circle Diamonds tells us that “cut is the most important quality factor”. This describes both the shape, but also the quality of the cut, which alters its brilliance.
“A good cut gives the brilliance which is the heart of the diamond. The angles and finish of any diamond are what determine its ability to handle light, which leads to brilliance.”
Most diamonds contain some inner flaws – the visibility, number and size of these determine the clarity of the diamond.
Colourless diamonds are the most desirable, they allow the most refraction of light, creating the all-important sparkle and shine.
A carat is the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured – large diamonds are rare, which is why the price of a diamond rises exponentially to its size. Therefore cluster settings are often used to create dazzling effects with multiple smaller diamonds.
How do I know the stones are responsibly sourced?
Ensure the jewellery house you’re buying from works with suppliers who have been certified through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) for confidence that your diamond is conflict-free. The KPCS began 17 years ago to stop the trade in conflict diamonds, by imposing strict requirements on its members to provide transparency of a diamond’s journey.
Some jewellery houses go even further to communicate their commitment to conflict-free diamonds, and will provide accompanying supporting documents. Upon purchase, Arctic Circle Diamonds provide customers with a diamond certificate with details of the stone.
Each Forevermark diamond has their logo and a unique inscription number – which can only be seen through a Forevermark viewer. Selected by hand, less than 1% of the world’s diamonds are eligible to become a Forevermark diamond – a true mark of ensuring strict business, environmental and social standards are met at every step.
What about the gold? How do I know this is ethical?
Embedded with tradition, gold remains a popular choice for most jewellery. Unfortunately, this industry has previously been known for a lack of care for its workers and the environment, but now several governing bodies are striving towards positive change.
The No Dirty Gold campaign lays out a set of criteria for responsible mining, called The Golden Rules. These include ensuring safe working conditions, protecting fragile ecosystems and preventing toxic water contamination. Our brands to trust Vieri and Forevermark have collections that sign on to The Golden Rules.
Arctic Circle uses Fairtrade Gold, which means they know the mine the gold comes from, while the Fairtrade Premium ensures the miners are paid fairly and have safe working conditions. At the hallmarking stage, these items also receive an additional hallmark to signify that the gold used is from a Fairtrade Gold mine.
Some designers, such as Flamingo Jewellery, are also moving towards working with recycled gold, making use of existing supplies.
How do I take care of it?
Before taking your purchase home, make sure you ask the jeweller for guidance on how to keep your piece looking beautiful for decades to come. Many retailers will offer aftercare services, or can recommend professional cleaners.
Keep jewellery stored properly when not in use – padded boxes will keep items safe, preventing scratches or damage from sunlight and humidity. Also, try to avoid contact with chemicals that could cause metals to discolour – so remove jewellery when bathing or applying skincare products.
This article only just scratches the surface of the complexities involved in the jewellery trade – for more information we also recommend these links: The Responsible Jewellery Council and The Alliance of Responsible Mining.