Our Ethical & Sustainability Focus

Our Ethical & Sustainability Focus


6 minute read

If you've struggled for clarity on the matter when speaking with jewellers, then we hear you! It was a struggle for us to firstly truly define the industry standards and secondly, identify those who are able to guarantee such claims.

OUR PROCESS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOURCING

Instead of a standard policy form or a broad sweeping statement regurgitated from jewellery industry websites, we wanted to take a different approach and really break down and further explain what we mean when referring to 'ethical and sustainable' jewellery practices. There is a vague ambiguity when those in the industry are pressed on responsible and ethical practices within their business. I feel it, and I therefore assume you also do. However, I actually understand the inability to often provide full clarity, and it comes down to these two elements that we are going to break down for you.

In our educational pursuit on the matter, I have come to understand that any jeweller that hasn't direct ownership in a mine and cutting facility has exposure to some level of potential unsustainable or questionable practices somewhere along the supply chain. I completely empathise with jewellers needing to have a somewhat vague ethical statement, as a truly transparent approach may be interpreted incorrectly by a customer and thus affecting business. What I mean by interpreted incorrectly is that the jewellery industry standards of having statements absolutely guaranteeing complete 'ethical and sustainable practices' (which is near impossible) mean that anyone deviating from this narrative will likely raise suspicion. Therefore, that 'easy way out' is the trend that sticks.

Our approach is full transparency. It follows and tells you exactly when we can and cannot guarantee ethical and sustainable practices when sourcing our stones across the entire supply chain, as well as what stages we have full clarity on. This will be shown through a scale of:

  • Origin - Known or Unknown (what protections are in place in this region)

  • Mining - Known or Unknown (what protections are in place in this region)

  • Gemstone Cutting - Known or Unknown (what protections are in place in this region)

  • Production - This will always be handled in-house at the Lei è Studio.

CURRENT INDUSTRY CONDITIONS

Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution due to geographic, political, and socioeconomic differences between gem-producing areas, most experts agree that simply boycotting jewelry is not a solution. The miners who eke out a living by small-scale mining would ultimately suffer. Nor is the solution to cut out buyers altogether. Thomas Cushman of the Gemmological Institute of Madagascar points out that every role along the supply chain is necessary for it to function, as mining and dealing require different skill sets, an assertion confirmed by the United States Agency for International Development (2011).

Rather than eliminate the market or the players, the essential components are managing human rights abuses alongside instances of white-collar crime (OECD, 2016c), providing reasonable payment for services, establishing and maintaining a minimum hiring age, championing environmental rehabilitation and reclamation, and instituting strict health and safety standards (Alawdeen, 2015). On the cutting side, fair labor hours and safe working conditions are also necessary. Various parties have launched efforts to improve these issues within the colored stone mining sector.

Firstly, are things getting better? Absolutely. Across the entire process, market and consumer pressures have demanded high standards of working and environmental conditions. Countries that have enforced schemes in these mining and cutting regions are a great way to ensure ethical and sustainable processes.

If you are unable to track the entire journey from mine to market, you can be assured that there is a strong effort to completely starve the industry of conflict diamonds. This is done via the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, established by the UN in 2003. 52 countries currently meet the minimum

DEFINING PROCESS & COMMITMENT

  1. Sourcing From Reputable Suppliers.

This may feel like we are passing the buck and looking to dilute culpability. However, through long and convoluted supply chains, guarantees around sustainability, ethical working conditions, and environmentally conscious systems can be difficult. Therefore, committing a level of trust to those suppliers who share our focus will continue to pass on consumer pressures to lessen the market influence of suppliers that ignore these practices. This is a powerful tool that will reverberate through the supply chain. Locality isn't essential to be 'reputable'; however, having a personal relationship with our suppliers allows for further trust to build, and that is why we generally work with local diamond and gemstone suppliers.

  1. Origin

Origin is our greatest tool for having confidence in the ethical practices during the mining and cutting process. Whilst mines and cutting facilities across non-developed nations have frameworks in place that demand certain conditions to improve, we will generally look to developed countries, such as Australia, United States, and Canada, for the vast majority of our gemstones.

  1. Education & Transparency

As we work directly with several suppliers, with differing focal points and priorities, we believe the best approach is our responsibility to highlight where our suppliers are unable to ensure a certain ethical standard and how these align with yours. So we employ you to ask for as much detail as you need on every supplier, and we'll happily inform you.

  1. Where We Have Caution;

Burmese colored gemstones: Regulations have assisted in the limited supply of stones from this region.

Colombian Emeralds: Concerns around child labor. Therefore, we will not source any emeralds from this region.

Tanzanites: We need to guarantee mining origin and supplier.

Madagascan Sapphires: We need to guarantee mining origin and supplier.



WHAT TO ASK US?

  1. On every stone, we can let you know; OMCP (Origin, Mining, Cutting, Production). Ask about your stone!

  2. If you need 100% guarantee over the provenance and the entire process, we have two suppliers that have ownership in mining and the cutting process - we can provide further information on this.

  3. If you're looking for the journey to start before the cutting process, we can source rough from mines and have a gemstone cut locally. This not only adds a degree of control over the process, but a further significance to your piece. We can work with you and the gemstone cutter to select a cut that suits the rough and document the entire process.

  4. In cases where we are unable to provide complete information on each stage of the gemstone or diamond's journey, we will be completely upfront and provide alternate routes for finding your dream stone.

OUR FUTURE COMMITMENTS

(Still developing)

We have a commitment to move towards having every colored gemstone at Lei è to be cut by our local gemstone cutters within the next two years.

Limitations: The very limited amount of precision gemstone cutters in Australia. This will require a long lead time to generate stock levels to service customer demands.

Any other questions, feel free to reach out directly to hello@leiedesign.com, and we'd be happy to help.

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