It’s difficult to know what you should be asking when you’re shopping for ethical and sustainable jewellery.
Whether you buy from me, or someone else, here’s what you should be asking:
Where does this gemstone or diamond come from? Can you trace it back to the mine?
It’s only possible to know if something is ethically and sustainably sourced if you know where it came from. Traceable can sometimes just mean traceable to a country, or to a cutting shop. When you find out which mine it’s from, do your own research, check you’re happy with the source. Unfortunately there are many mining companies out there that say that are ethical, but also have documented human rights infringements or even cases of people being killed.
Is this gold (silver, platinum) 100% recycled?
In any recycled alloy, only the precious metal content of the alloy will be recycled. (Even with Fairtrade and Fairmined, only the precious metal parts of the alloy will come from Fairtrade or Fairmined sources). Recycling non precious metals is not considered to be economically viable. That said, you want all of the precious metal to be recycled for maximum environmental benefit.
Is this gold or silver Fairmined or Fairtrade?
You can go online and check that the jeweller or retailer is registered with Fairmined and Fairtrade. Fairtrade has both gold licensees (large companies who will use the Fairtrade mark) and a goldsmiths registration scheme (for independent makers who don’t use a fairtrade mark on the inside of their pieces). With Fairmined, all jewellers will be licensees or licensed brands and all jewellery will carry the Fairmined mark.
If you want to dig a bit deeper, you could ask if their products are suitable for vegans, if their packaging is compostable, or about workshop practices . Go with your gut, if someone can’t, or won’t answer your questions or if they’re being evasive, you probably have your answer.