Browse Articles by Category
Marketing Mined Diamonds to Environmentally Conscious Consumers
Following revelations of human rights abuses and environmental destruction perpetuated by the diamond mining industry, the industry suffered vast reputational damage in the first part of the 21st century. The concept of “blood diamonds”—diamonds used to fund wars in Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone—captured the public imagination and shaped public perception of the industry.
The industry took steps to redress these wrongs, developing institutions and processes such as the Kimberley Process to crack down on the trade of diamonds whose origins could not be verified. Organizations like Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, and Partnership Africa Canada have sought to go further than the Kimberley Process in bringing to light and correcting ethical and environmental abuses within the industry. While things weren’t fixed overnight, greater awareness of abuses, heightened scrutiny of the industry, and advances in technology have led to a cleaner, and in some cases more equitable, mining industry.
But how much of this does the general diamond-buying public know? Despite steps the industry has taken to clean up its act, its reputation for abusive and destructive practices persists. At the same time, the technology for creating lab-grown diamonds advanced to the point that LGD became a viable consumer product—one without any of diamond mining’s tainted history.
LGD were able to step in to fill the need consumers had for ethically and sustainably produced diamonds. While not every lab-grown diamond is more ethically or sustainably produced than every mined diamond, sustainability is still LGD’s main selling point, along with affordability. The rise of LGD coincides with the rise of a generation of consumers who prioritize sustainable practices above all else. These consumers still may view the mining industry with suspicion.
It's important that whatever type of diamond consumers choose, mined or lab-grown, they are making an informed choice. If they are choosing lab-grown for ethical reasons, there are a few factors that may show them a side of the mining industry they didn’t know existed.
Seek Out Ethical Sources
Just as every single lab-grown diamond isn’t more ethical or sustainable than every single mined diamond, not all mining companies are the same. To appeal to a demographic passionate about environmental issues, work with partners at every level of the supply chain that you know are working to make the industry as ethical and sustainable as possible.
For example, Canadian companies mining in the fragile arctic ecosystem work with local First Nations peoples to ensure that both the local land and population are cared for. Namibia and Botswana both have strong laws protecting miners from abuses, and Botswana in particular is leading the way for sustainable diamond mining.
Pursue Independent Certification
Pursuing certification by organizations like SCS goes a long way to building trust with consumers. SCS offers certification for Sustainability Rated Diamonds. Participants can achieve certification by passing independent audits verifying origin traceability and climate neutrality and adhering to environmental requirements. SCS also offers a Responsible Source – Jewelry certification for recycled or conflict-free gemstones and supply chains that adhere to rigorous health and safety criteria.
Educate Your Customers
If you’re part of a sustainable, ethical supply chain, the next step is to make sure your customers know about your commitment to sustainability. Phrases like “conflict-free,” “ethically sourced,” and “sustainable” should be a part of your marketing and merchandising if you can back up those claims. Whether you are a supplier or retailer, being known as the place to go for ethically or sustainably mined diamonds can give you a competitive advantage.
Transparency will lift up both the mined and lab-grown sectors. As ethical and sustainable practices proliferate in the mining industry, the lab-grown sector will have to work harder to substantiate its claims. It is in the best interest of both to be honest about its practices and strive to back up its claims with verifiable facts. Many players in the mining industry and throughout the supply chain are making an earnest effort to do the right thing. We also have to make sure consumers know that.