The Jewelry Glossary Project

    Have you ever wondered what ‘sustainable' or ‘ethically sourced’ actually means when it comes to diamonds and colored gemstones? You’re not alone! The jewelry industry itself has been mired in contradiction over the exact definition of many oft-used jewelry terms.

    To create a more unified language, a group of industry experts joined forces to define the most ambiguous, commonly used (and misused) terms in the jewelry trade. Enter: The Jewelry Glossary Project.

    What is the Jewelry Glossary Project?

    The Jewelry Glossary Project's goal is to create universally accepted definitions so that consumers, jewelers, dealers, goldsmiths, and designers can start speaking the same language.

    The first ten definitions are: ethical, recycled, post-consumer recycled, pre-consumer recycled, sustainability, conflict-free diamond, Fairmined, Fairtrade, Fair Trade Certified, and fair trade (see the definitions below!)

    "The project was launched to increase transparency throughout the supply chain, by building consensus on definitions for key terms and creating accountability for their usage." – The Jewelry Glossary Project

    Why is this project so important?

    When you buy an ‘ethically sourced’ gemstone, your assumption may be that no harm was done in the sourcing and extraction of that stone. And another customer’s impression of that label might be totally different.

    The same goes for sustainability, conflict-free diamonds, and many other terms that buyers assume have universal meanings. The truth is though, jewelers and manufacturers can choose to attribute any meaning to those claims since there are no agreed-upon definitions. The Jewelry Glossary Project is a great step towards eliminating some of this murkiness and creating a more transparent, accountable, and unified jewelry world.

    This is so important to us: that consumers can feel confident knowing what claims actually mean and that they’re buying items aligned with their own personal ethos. It’s why we partner with gemstone dealers who take responsible and ethical sourcing seriously.

    One of our trusted gemstone dealers is Jared Holstein - a founding member (and author) of The Jewelry Glossary Project. We have a whole blog with Jared, where we chat about the social & environmental aspects of gemstone mining, why he loves antique stones, and why post-consumer recycled diamonds are the most environmentally sustainable choice.

    The Definitions

    Keep reading for the first ten definitions created by The Jewelry Glossary Project. Visit the Jewelry Glossary Project site for extra notes and more context on each definition. "We focused on these ten terms because we noticed them being used prevalently and with widely differing meanings…”– The Jewelry Glossary Project


    Guided by principles that facilitate environmental and human well-being and avoid practices that do harm.


    A term applied to metals and gemstones purchased or used by consumers (post-consumer), or are a byproduct of manufacturing (pre-consumer) or finished goods that were never in circulation (pre-consumer) that are reused in the manufacturing of new products. Bullion containing any non-recycled metal or manufacturing byproduct reintroduced back into the same production line are not recycled.

    post-consumer recycled

    Materials such as metals and gemstones recovered from used consumer products for reuse in new products.

    pre-consumer recycled

    Recovered material byproducts of manufacturing or materials reclaimed from uncirculated consumer goods used to make new products.  


    Practices that protect environmental integrity and promote human health in the sourcing, production, sale, and distribution of jewelry.

    conflict-free diamond

    A diamond purportedly free of conflict as described by the narrow definition of ‘conflict diamond’ in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS definition of ‘conflict diamond’ does not include commonly accepted types of conflict found in diamond sourcing, production, and trading.

    Fair Trade Certified

    A label applied to products by U.S. non-profit organization Fair Trade USA. As of 2019, there are no Fair Trade Certified jewelry-related products.


    A label applied to gold and silver that is sourced exclusively from artisanal and small-scale mining organizations that meet the requirements of the Fairmined Standard written by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). This standard attempts to improve trading conditions and environmental sustainability for producers in developing countries.

    fair trade/Fair Trade

    Fair trade​ ​is​ ​a general term that can be used by anyone, and claims are not verified via third-party​ ​auditors referencing a standard. General fair trade principles can, but don’t necessarily, include helping producers in developing countries achieve better environmental, health, safety and socioeconomic conditions.​ Products described as “fair trade” or “Fair Trade” are not associated with Fairtrade International or Fair Trade USA.


    A label applied to products that are third-party certified against standards created by FLOcert (Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International), the certification body of Fairtrade International. This standard attempts to improve trading conditions and environmental sustainability for producers in developing countries. As of 2019, gold and silver are the only Fairtrade jewelry-related products.

    What does the Future hold for the Jewelry Glossary Project?

    After presenting the first ten definitions at last year’s Jewelry Industry Summit, the members discussed expanding the list to include: transparency, traceability, social responsibility/corporate responsibility, economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability.

    The Jewelry Glossary Project team will be working to include these definitions as time and resources allow between their regular businesses. Stay tuned!

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