You're about to splurge on your dream diamond and you want to make the most sparkling, scintillating, and ethicalchoice - we've got you. We're here with the full story behind ethically sourced and conflict-free diamonds for engagement rings or treat-yourself rings:
What is a conflict-free diamond?
What is an ethically sourced diamond?
Ethically sourced vs fair trade, conflict-free, and responsibly sourced
How and where to find an ethical diamond
What Is a Conflict-Free Diamond?
In it's purest sense, "Conflict-free" means a diamond that isn't used to fund conflict - think wars, terrorism and rebel movements. Conflict-free diamonds are certified through the Kimberley Process, a certification process developed by the diamond industry to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds. Most diamonds available today are Kimberley Process certified, and by this definition, would be considered conflict-free.
While the Kimberley Process is a good start, it's often criticized for not being stringent enough. It was created in 2003 and hasn't been updated with a modern geopolitical assessment - there are conflicts all over the world today that weren't happening when the Kimberley Process was created. Take Russia for example - many Jewelers are still claiming Russian diamonds are conflict-free even in the midst of a war. Truly ethical Jewelers will use the Kimberley Process as a starting point and keep asking questions from there.
Keep in mind, conflict-free diamonds don't take into account the social or environmental side of truly ethical sourcing. Take oceanic mining for example - while it's considered conflict-free because it's not involved in wars or terrorism, it's also incredibly damaging to the ocean and cannot be considered an ethical choice.
What Are Ethically Sourced Diamonds?
Ethical diamonds are mined, processed, and sold in a manner that's respectful of human rights, the environment, and the communities they come from. It means miners, cutters, and everyone along the supply chain are paid fairly, treated ethically, and the diamonds are extracted and processed using environmentally responsible mining processes.
Keep in mind, diamond mining is inherently an unsustainable and environmentally disruptive practice. Be wary of anyone that claims their diamonds are 'sustainable' - this is greenwashing and simply isn't possible. What is possible is better, more responsible extraction techniques like reduced water usage, land reclamation, using renewable energy, and avoiding toxic chemicals. Ethical diamonds make use of the least damaging practices available.
Does Ethically Sourced Mean the Diamond Is Conflict-Free?
Yes, truly ethical diamonds are conflict-free by default.
Ethically Sourced vs Fair-Trade Diamonds
'Fair trade' refers to how workers and communities are treated. It means miners, cutters, and workers are paid fairly, are working in safe conditions, and are treated ethically. Many fair-trade diamonds include additional programs that benefit workers and communities like safety training and education.
Ethically sourced diamonds, on the other hand, refer to diamonds that don't harm the environment, miners, or local communities. It's fair-trade plus environmentally responsible practices.
What Should You Look for to Know Your Diamond Is Ethically Sourced?
As a baseline, look for Kimberley Process certified diamonds to ensure you're avoiding conflict diamonds.
The next level in ethical sourcing is mine to market diamonds, where the stone can be traced back to its original mine with transparency all along the supply chain. These stones are rare - most diamonds go through a complex supply chain of miners, dealers, cutters, distributers, traders, and importers - you can't be sure where that stone originated or the practices of that mine. Mine to market stones are the highest standard in ethical sourcing - it means no unethical practices can be hidden.
For a simple ethical option, shop Canadian diamonds or Argyle mined diamonds. Both of these regions are known for their transparent ethical diamond mining practices.
Questions to Ask to Ensure a Diamond Is Ethical
- Is this stone certified through the Kimberley Process?
Is this stone traceable?
Where was this gemstone mined?
Does this mine use environmentally responsible mining techniques? Are they required to reclaim the land once mining is completed?
Are the miners paid fairly, working in a safe environment, and treated ethically?
Who cut this stone? Are the workers paid fairly and treated ethically?
What Are the Differences Between Industrial Mining vs. Artisanal Mining Practices?
Diamonds are mostly found deep in the Earth and require large-scale mining operations to find and extract them. There are some small-scale artisanal diamonds mines, however they're rare in the diamond industry.
The colored gemstone industry uses mostly artisanal mining, so if you're looking for a diamond alternative that's less disruptive to the environment, opt for an ethical sapphire or other colored gemstone.
Are There Any Differences Between Responsible and Ethically Sourced Diamonds?
We prefer the word 'responsible' over 'ethical'. The meaning of 'ethical' has been diluted thanks to its rampant misuse, plus it doesn't imply any future actions. 'Responsible' on the other hand, means we're responsible to make the most ethical choices in our sourcing decisions, both in terms of human rights and the environment.
It means we have the responsibility to go above and beyond, to continually improve, to ask questions, and dig deeper to find the truth behind our stones.
Where Do Ethically Sourced Diamonds Come From?
You can find ethical diamonds all over the world. The best ethically sourced diamonds are found in Canada as they have stringent labor and environmental regulations and aren't involved in any conflicts.
Are Ethically Sourced Diamonds More Expensive?
A truly ethical diamond like a Canadian diamond or mine to market stone will generally cost more as the price reflects the fair pay of workers all along the supply chain and strict environmental practices.
Are Gem Breakfast Diamonds Ethically Sourced?
Yes! We only work with Kimberley Process-approved vendors, and start asking questions from there. We build strong relationships with our dealers - meet them face to face and extensively vet their sourcing process and supply chain. We only work with vendors who are committed to doing the right thing and for whom ethical sourcing is a non-negotiable.
Recycled diamonds as an ethical diamond alternative
Recycled diamonds are a great alternative to newly mined diamonds - they have the smallest environmental footprint since no new mining or production has to take place. Of course, that stone was mined at some point and carries the environmental impact from its original extraction, but it's much more sustainable to reuse what's already been mined than to mine anew.
It's also kind of romantic to think of that diamond's life story throughout history!
Are lab grown diamonds an ethical alternative?
Lab-grown diamonds are synthetically produced in a laboratory. Just like natural diamonds, lab-made gems can be created ethically or unethically - it's all about the labor standards and environmental practices at that specific facility.
Just like with natural raw diamonds, ask questions to find out how a lab-created diamond is being produced and what they're doing to protect the environment and their workers.
Searching for an ethical diamond of your own? Browse our buffet of loose diamonds and send us a message anytime if you're looking for something specific!