gold

Key dates

  • 1948 “Diamonds are forever” campaign by “DeBeers” —> commercialisation of the engagement ring 
  • 1950 First appearance of diamonds simultant (Cubic Zirconia, Moissonite – Diamond simulant )
  • 1977 “Swarovski” first created glass diamond that was introduced later in high jewelry
  • 1978 The first “Rapaport” Price List was released by Martin Rapaport, the Rapaport Diamonds Group founder. It categorises every diamond according to its 4C’s and price it.
  • 1990 Synthetic diamonds first appeared (HPHT diamond or CVD diamond)
  • 2003 Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is the process established in 2003 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by United Nations General Assembly Resolution
  • 2005 “Pure grown diamond” production of synthetic diamond in US
  • 2006 “Brilliant Earth” was launched with the release of the Blood Diamond movie 
  • 2017  Real is diamond campaign 
  • 2018 Blockchain is introduced into diamond tracking tools (Tracr, Everledger)
  • May 2018 “DeBeers” created “Lightbox”, a jewelry brand focused on lab-grown diamonds (colored)
  • June 2018 Diamond Foundry is the world’s first Carbon Neutral® diamond producer 

Mining our nature

Unfortunately, along with its glitz and glam, the jewelry industry is notorious for ripping through the earth and subjecting workers to dangerous conditions; except for some exceptions. Gold mining is notoriously harmful to the earth. In large mines, rocks are exploded out of the ground and then crushed into small bits of ore in grinding facilities. From there, the dangerous chemical cyanide typically dissolves the gold away from the ore. Cyanide is toxic to many animals, which means that surrounding habitats are at risk if a leak, or dumping, takes place, which happens repeatedly. Fortunately, regulations in the major countries have tightened up in recent years. Yet gold mining occurs all over the world. 

Refining gold

But gold has something going for it: refining. About 85 percent of gold and 50 percent of silver is recycled and that makes easier trade. Despite increased efficiency and more stringent legislation of all the metals, there are lingering environmental hazards. When rocks are extracted that wouldn’t have seen the light of day for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, a huge amount of energy is invested. And the target metal isn’t the only thing that comes to the surface. Heavy metals, including arsenic, make an appearance. Alternative metals also have alternative extraction sites. Titanium is derived from ore minerals in sand deposits. To get at the ore, the sands are dredged. As a result, coastal environments are disturbed. Is this better or worse than the methods used for gold extraction? Who can say? 

Fairtrade

There have been efforts to introduce fair trade practices to the luxury goods industry, particularly for gold and diamonds. In parallel to efforts to commoditize diamonds, some industry players have launched campaigns to introduce benefits to mining centers in the developing world. Rapaport Fair Trade was established with the goal “to provide ethical education for jewelry suppliers, buyers, first time or seasoned diamond buyers, social activists, students, and anyone interested in jewelry, trends, and ethical luxury.” The company’s founder, Martin Rapaport, as well as Kimberley Process initiators Ian Smillie and Global Witness, are among several industry insiders and observers who have called for greater checks and certification programs among many other programs that would ensure protection for miners and producers in developing countries. Other concerns in the diamond industry include working conditions in diamond cutting centers as well as the use of child labor. Both of these concerns come up when considering issues in Surat, India.

Change is gonna come !

  • The diamond giant, DeBeers Diamond group, have invested a lot on refining its imagine regarding mining conditions, the people around the supply chain and obviously fair trade diamonds. It recently released a corporate book that aims storytelling. It is the biggest diamond supplier in the world and yet, it continues to mine instead of evaluating the existing inventory they extract from their mines and using it. 
  • In their own way, Greenpeace has collaborated with Flume music artist featuring a 2-minute video that features all the beauty of the world and what the world would look like if we continue mining our cities and nature at this speed. This video/song was very well perceived by millennial and continues to make a change.
  • Demonstrating the negative aspect of mines is one thing, trying to reconcile yourself for a better world is another: Gemfields, currently owning Faberge, aims to showcase the world the public voice of the people behind the supply chain. Using miners interviews, exhibitions, and social media campaigns, it successfully placed themselves as a jewelry brand without even creating jewelry to sell. 
  • Releasing yearly reports, big luxury conglomerates have shared a clean perspective of sustainability today. Kering and LVMH (LIFE) are good examples. True or not? Well, it is too early to judge whatsoever. 
  • Marketing strategies are brought to life aiming to touch customers at their core: Take #thejourneytosustainableluxury by Chopard as a good strategy hope. Doing good thing is one thing but doing a bad thing and lying about it is another. Also, Bulgari used the actor Luke Evans as a star of their #raiseyourhand campaign, pretending to do a remarkable impact for @savethechildren. 
  • When it comes to a diamond — quite a likely one of the most expensive and emotional purchases a jewelry buyer will ever make — most know next to nothing about the source of the stone. Tiffany & Company, which sold more than $500 million worth of diamond engagement rings in 2017, is hoping to change that. Beginning Wednesday, it will start a program that will identify for customers the country where their diamond was mined, and, eventually, information on where it was cut, polished and set. The issue of sourcing is especially acute with diamonds, which change hands many times from mine to showroom. More buyers are asking for specific evidence that their gems were not produced using child labor or to finance wars or terrorist activity — the concerns over so-called blood diamonds. So jewelers are starting to work provenance into their marketing, with some even exploring blockchain technology as a way to provide more information about a gem’s origins.