Beyond the Diamonds: Understanding the Ethics of Our Jewellery Business
Our studio is based on Australia’s Sunshine Coast in Buderim. We have a team of master jewellers based in Melbourne, Victoria who hand craft our pieces in the highest quality metals using ethically sourced diamonds. We are dedicated to sustainable jewellery that adorns without compromising the environment. Our standards of quality and materials come together perfectly with sustainable design solutions, production process and business philosophy. All our pieces are Australian made, responsibly sourced from the highest quality materials and crafted with the utmost precision and care. From the design process to wearing your unforgettable piece, we do everything with the community and environment in mind.
The jewellery industry raises several ethical concerns, particularly regarding human rights, labour practices, environmental impact, and the sourcing of raw materials. This blog will discuss some key ethical considerations related to the jewellery industry and what Morgan & Co are doing to ensure we are keeping not only our environment safe, but as equally as importantly, the people who live in it.
Table of Contents:
- Human Rights and Labour Practices
- Unsafe Working Conditions
- Child Labour
- Forced Labour
- Fair Wages and Working Hours
- Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
- Migrant Workers' Rights
- Conflict Diamonds
- Being Informed
- Buying From Reputable Jewellers
- Considering Lab Grown Diamonds
- Environmental Impacts of Mining Precious Metals and Gemstones
- Supply Chain Transparency
- Responsible Sourcing
- Fair Trade and Artisanal Mining
- Lab Grown and Synthetic Alternatives
Human Rights and Labor Practices
The jewellery industry has faced scrutiny for labour rights violations, including unsafe working conditions, child labour, and forced labour. Companies need to work towards ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and respect for workers' rights throughout the supply chain. We will now discuss some key issues related to human rights and labour practices in the industry to help you better understand the negative issues and how we as a business are ensuring we source ethically to help reduce these problems that unfortunately are still prevalent.
Unsafe Working Conditions
Jewellery production involves various processes, including mining, cutting, polishing, and manufacturing. In many cases, workers are exposed to hazardous substances, such as toxic chemicals and dust, without adequate safety measures. Occupational health and safety standards must be upheld to protect workers' well-being.
Child labour is a significant concern in the jewellery industry, particularly in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations. Children are sometimes engaged in hazardous work conditions, risking their health, safety, and education. Responsible jewellery companies must ensure that their supply chains are free from child labour and support initiatives to eradicate child labour in the industry. Morgan & Co ensure that each and every diamond that is purchased is sourced from a safe and ethical environment, free from child labour. If we are unsure where a diamond’s origin is, then we will not touch it. Each diamond we sell comes with a certificate noting the origin.
Forced labour, including debt bondage and human trafficking, can be prevalent in certain regions where jewellery production takes place. Workers may be coerced into working under exploitative conditions with restricted freedom and minimal pay. Strict due diligence is necessary to identify and address any instances of forced labour in the supply chain.
Fair Wages and Working Hours
Jewellery workers, especially those involved in manufacturing and assembly processes, may face low wages and excessive working hours. Fair remuneration, including living wages, should be provided to workers, and working hours should comply with legal standards, allowing for rest periods and reasonable work-life balance.
Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
The jewellery industry often employs a significant number of women, particularly in jewellery manufacturing and artisanal mining. It is essential to promote gender equality, fair treatment, and equal opportunities for women, including access to education and leadership positions, and to address issues such as workplace harassment and discrimination.
Migrant Workers' Rights
The jewellery industry relies on migrant workers in various regions. Protecting the rights of these workers, including fair treatment, non-discrimination, and access to social protections, is crucial. Companies should work to ensure that migrant workers are not subjected to exploitative practices or human rights abuses.
Key Takeaway: Addressing these human rights and labour challenges requires a multi-stakeholder approach involving jewellery companies, industry associations, governments, and civil society organisations. Collaboration and transparency throughout the supply chain are necessary to identify and rectify any violations and promote ethical practices in the jewellery industry, all of which Morgan & Co are fully educated on and take very seriously.
Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance armed conflict against governments. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established to combat the trade of conflict diamonds by implementing regulations and certification procedures.
To avoid buying conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, there are multiple steps that can be taken to ensure you’re purchasing from an ethical source. These will now be discussed.
By researching and educating yourself, you can learn about the issue of conflict diamonds and familiarise yourself with the countries and regions associated with diamond mining. Understanding the problem will help you make informed decisions. By reading blogs like this, you can better understand the issues and be part of the solution.
Buying From Reputable Jewellers
Buy from a reputable jeweller, such as Morgan & Co, to ensure you are purchasing diamonds and jewellery from reputable and trustworthy companies and manufacturers who have a commitment to ethical sourcing. Look for jewellers that provide information about their supply chains and can trace their diamonds back to ethical sources.
Ensure your diamond has a certification from a reputable third party. Check if the jeweller sells diamonds that are certified by reputable organisations such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS is an international initiative that aims to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds. Morgan & Co’s diamonds are IGI or GIA certified.
Request documentation from the jeweller that verifies the diamond's origin and confirms that it is conflict-free. Responsible jewellers should be able to provide this information and have a transparent supply chain. Morgan & Co will always provide you with a certification of your diamonds from either IGI or GIA. These two companies are known in the industry globally and certify both natural and lab grown diamonds.
Considering Lab Grown Diamonds
Consider Lab-Grown Diamonds when you’re searching for your engagement ring. Lab-grown diamonds are an ethical alternative to mined, or natural, diamonds. These diamonds are created in a laboratory setting and have the same physical and chemical properties as natural diamonds. They are not associated with the environmental or human rights concerns of mining. Read more about the difference between lab grown and natural diamonds here.
By looking for jewellery brands, such as Morgan & Co, who actively support ethical sourcing initiatives, fair trade practices, and sustainable mining communities, you can rest assured that you are purchasing ethically.
Stay updated on developments and advancements in the diamond industry. New technologies and initiatives are continuously emerging to promote responsible and sustainable practices. By staying informed, you can make better choices when purchasing diamond jewellery. If you have any questions about sourcing ethically, please contact the team at Morgan & Co for a free consultation and go over any concerns you may have.
Key Takeaway: Remember that while the Kimberley Process has made efforts to regulate the diamond trade, it has faced criticism for not fully addressing all ethical concerns. Therefore, it's important to conduct your own research and choose jewellers, such as Morgan & Co, who prioritise ethical practices and transparency in their supply chains.
Environmental Impact of Mining Precious Metals and Gemstones
Mining precious metals and gemstones can have significant environmental consequences, such as deforestation, involving clearing large areas of land, including forests, to access diamond-bearing deposits. Deforestation can result in habitat loss, soil erosion, and disruption of ecosystems, affecting biodiversity and contributing to climate change.
Responsible mining practices, including land reclamation and water management, are essential. Additionally, the industry should promote recycling and the use of sustainable materials.
Furthermore, diamond mining involves removing topsoil and excavating large amounts of earth, leading to soil erosion and land degradation. This can have long-term effects on the fertility and productivity of the land, impacting local communities and agricultural activities.
Mining activities, including the use of heavy machinery and the disposal of mining waste, can contaminate nearby water sources. Chemicals used in the mining process, such as cyanide and mercury, can pollute rivers, streams, and groundwater, affecting aquatic ecosystems and potentially harming local communities' water supplies.
Water Depletion is another significant impact on the environment when it comes to mining natural diamonds. Diamond mining often requires significant amounts of water for processing and dust suppression. In water-scarce regions, this can strain local water resources, leading to water scarcity for both communities and ecosystems.
Energy Consumption and Carbon Footprint needs to be considered when mining for natural diamonds. The extraction, processing, and transportation of diamonds require substantial energy inputs, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The use of heavy machinery, diesel-powered generators, and transportation vehicles adds to the carbon footprint of diamond mining operations.
Diamond mining can also have social and economic impacts on local communities. Displacement of communities, loss of traditional livelihoods, and unequal distribution of benefits can occur if mining operations are not properly managed. Additionally, the influx of workers into mining areas can put pressure on local infrastructure and social systems.
Efforts are being made to mitigate the environmental impact of diamond mining. Some companies are implementing sustainable mining practices, such as reclamation and rehabilitation of mining sites, water management strategies, and biodiversity conservation measures. Additionally, the promotion of recycled diamonds and lab-grown diamonds as alternatives to mined diamonds helps reduce the environmental footprint of the industry. Morgan & Co source ethically when it comes to mined, otherwise known as natural, diamonds and we are also in huge support of lab grown, or cultured, diamonds.
Key Takeaway: It is important for consumers to consider the environmental impact of diamonds and support companies that prioritise responsible and sustainable mining practices, as well as alternatives that reduce the need for new mining activities.
Supply Chain Transparency
Ensuring transparency in the jewellery supply chain is crucial. Companies should trace the origin of their materials, including metals and gemstones, to prevent the use of conflict minerals and to ensure ethical sourcing. Transparent supply chains also help prevent human rights abuses and environmental harm. Morgan & Co ensure they only use materials that can be sourced and traced to ensure we are only dealing in conflict free materials, metals and stones.
The extraction of certain gemstones and metals can be associated with human rights abuses, environmental damage, and supporting conflict. Responsible sourcing involves working with suppliers who adhere to ethical and sustainable practices, minimising negative impacts on local communities and ecosystems.
Fair Trade and Artisanal Mining
Supporting fair trade initiatives and artisanal mining communities can contribute to the ethical development of the jewellery industry. Fair trade practices promote fair wages, safe working conditions, and community development, ensuring that artisans receive a fair share of the profits.
Lab-Grown and Synthetic Alternatives
The rise of lab-grown diamonds and synthetic gemstones offers an ethical alternative to traditional mining practices. These alternatives reduce the environmental impact and potential human rights issues associated with mining natural resources.
It's important for consumers to be informed about the jewellery industry's ethical concerns and to support companies that demonstrate a commitment to responsible and sustainable practices.
Supporting the use of ethically sourced diamonds and metals in the jewellery industry is not only a responsible choice but also a crucial step towards building a sustainable and ethical industry. By prioritising ethical practices, jewellers can contribute to the well-being of workers, communities, and the environment while meeting consumer demand for responsibly produced jewellery, all of which are of utmost importance to Morgan & Co.
Choosing ethically sourced diamonds ensures that they are free from human rights abuses, such as child labour and forced labour, and helps prevent the trade of conflict diamonds that fund violence and civil unrest. By supporting transparent supply chains and certifications like the Kimberley Process, jewellery businesses, such as Morgan & Co, can provide customers with the assurance that their purchases have not caused harm or perpetuated injustices.
Additionally, opting for ethically sourced metals promotes responsible mining practices, minimising environmental damage, deforestation, and water pollution. By supporting initiatives that prioritise land reclamation, sustainable water management, and reduced carbon emissions, jewellery businesses can contribute to preserving ecosystems and mitigating climate change.
Embracing ethically sourced diamonds and metals aligns with the growing demand for sustainable and socially responsible products. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the social and environmental impact of their purchases and are more likely to support businesses that demonstrate ethical values. Morgan & Co pride ourselves on making responsible choices so we can build trust, enhance our reputation, and tap into a market that values sustainability and ethics, all of which is important to us as a business.
Supporting ethically sourced diamonds and metals enables us to positively impact the lives of workers, protect the environment, meet consumer expectations, and contribute to the long-term sustainability of the industry. By committing to ethical practices, we can lead the way towards a more responsible and transparent jewellery industry.
We are so proud to be able to make a piece unique to you. A piece that can be adored for years and generations to come, while keeping our environment and the people who live in it safe. Please book your free, no obligation consultation today and begin the process of creating your forever piece, with the peace of mind that the environment you live in is at the forefront of our process. Book here: https://morgancojewellery.com.au/pages/contact
Frequently Asked Questions about Ethically Sourced Diamonds and the Impact of Mined Diamonds on the Environment:
What are ethically sourced diamonds?
Ethically sourced diamonds are diamonds that have been mined, processed, and traded with a commitment to responsible and ethical practices. This includes ensuring that diamonds are free from human rights abuses, conflict, and exploitation, and that workers involved in the supply chain are treated fairly and work in safe conditions.
How can I be sure that a diamond is ethically sourced?
To ensure a diamond is ethically sourced, look for certifications from reputable organisations like the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) or the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). Reputable jewellers should also provide information about their supply chains and their efforts to promote ethical practices.
What is the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)?
The Kimberley Process is an international initiative aimed at preventing the trade of conflict diamonds. It requires participating countries to implement regulations and certifications to ensure that diamonds are not used to finance armed conflicts.
How do mined diamonds impact the environment?
Mined diamonds can have significant environmental impacts, including deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, and carbon emissions. Diamond mining also consumes large amounts of energy and water, leading to the depletion of natural resources in some regions.
What are the alternatives to mined diamonds for eco-conscious consumers?
Eco-conscious consumers can opt for lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic diamonds. These diamonds are created in a laboratory setting and have the same physical and chemical properties as natural diamonds, but they have a much lower environmental impact as they do not require mining.
Can jewellery businesses make a difference by using ethically sourced diamonds and metals?
Yes, jewellery businesses have the power to make a significant difference by using ethically sourced diamonds and metals. By promoting responsible and sustainable practices, they can support fair labour conditions, protect the environment, and contribute to the overall well-being of communities and ecosystems.
How does supporting ethically sourced diamonds benefit the jewellery industry?
Supporting ethically sourced diamonds enhances the reputation of the jewelry industry as a whole. It allows businesses to build trust with consumers who are increasingly concerned about the social and environmental impact of their purchases, leading to increased customer loyalty and a competitive advantage.
Are there any other ethical considerations for jewellery businesses beyond diamonds and metals?
Yes, besides diamonds and metals, jewellery businesses should also consider the ethical sourcing of other gemstones and materials used in their products. Additionally, promoting fair trade, supporting artisanal mining communities, and investing in sustainability initiatives are essential steps towards being a socially responsible jewellery business.