Blood diamond wasn't just a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds as they're sometimes known, are stones that fuel human misery and suffering. The term comes from diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance a warlord's activities, an insurgency, or an invading army. Put simply, your purchase can indirectly finance atrocities.
A lot of the time, a gemstone doesn't need to be mined in a war zone to negatively impact its immediate surroundings. There are plenty of unethical mines in the world that treat their employees as expendable beasts-of-burden rather than human beings. These same mines don't exactly practice environmentally sound mining practices either. An unethical mine can cause land degradation. It can impact the local water table, causing pollution in the supply, as well as floods. All of this can severely impact local wildlife, biodiversity and the communities situated close to the mines - usually populated with the very people exploited there!
What can WE do?
That's the big question. As consumers, we don't actively wish to damage these environments or communities, but it can be difficult to make an informed decision on how to spend our money wisely and ethically. That's where ethical gems come in. These are gemstones that are mined with minimal environmental damage. The miners are not exploited and do not suffer terrible working conditions that are hazardous to their health. The profits are not used to fund war, political corruption or acts of terrorism.
We use ethically sourced gems in our designs. There is, however, one small problem with them.
They're more expensive.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could be rewarded for your ethical choices? If somehow, you could have a beautiful gemstone that's genuine, conflict free, and cheaper than the alternative?
Back in July 2019, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) announced that they would no longer use the term 'synthetic' when grading lab-grown diamonds. It was a pretty big deal, as they were pretty much announcing that lab-grown was no longer the poor relation in the diamond family.
It makes sense when you think about it. Lab-grown diamonds are created by placing diamond 'seeds' into an intensely hot, pressurised environment until they grow into rough diamonds. Just the way real diamonds grow in nature. In fact, lab-grown diamonds are chemically identical to mined diamonds. The only way to tell them apart is with a lot of expensive equipment to analyse the growth structures within the gemstone.
It doesn't stop at diamonds, though. Lab-grown sapphires are much less expensive than the mined versions. Emeralds are notoriously difficult to gem-set, as they're incredibly brittle and prone to shattering. The lab-grown variety are clear with an even structure that makes them more durable as well as beautiful.
Choosing lab-grown, where available, is one of those rare occasions where the ethical choice is actually the cheaper one and, in some cases, the more beautiful one.
Making the right choice at the right timeSome of our gemstones are mined ethically, like our citrines and aquamarines. We haven't found a supplier yet who can provide a lab-created alternative. But we're still looking, and when that happens, we'll switch over.
What matters to us, besides the ethics in our gem choices, is the quality and beauty of our stones. There are plenty of big jewellers out there who will advertise 'genuine diamond rings' for incredibly low prices. When you see these, look through the descriptions carefully. Hidden, way down deep in the text, you'll find that these diamonds are grade SI (slightly included) at best, and more likely I3 (the lowest grade of diamond available).
We offer VS grade diamonds as a minimum (very slightly included - flaws can only be seen through 10x magnification). All of our sapphires, emeralds, etc. are A grade at a minimum. Put simply, we don't put cheap crap in our designs - never have, never will.
When you look at our clusters collection, you may find yourself wondering how we can offer pavé sapphires at such a low price point. Now you know. We make the ethical choice and pass the saving along to you.
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