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— by Cullen Jewellery — Reading time 4 minutes

Choosing Ethical Jewellery: A Comprehensive Guide

The world of jewellery can be misleading, especially since lab-grown diamonds became popularised in the past decade. Mined diamond brands often try to discredit the claims of lab-grown diamond brands, whilst lab-grown diamond brands continue to capture the attention of financially savvy and environmentally conscious fine jewellery lovers. If you want to know what to choose, and why, here’s everything you need to know.

What is ethical jewellery?

Ethical and sustainable jewellery are often mashed together, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. The ethics in fine jewellery is a recurring debate, and particularly on the topic of diamond mining, human rights and prevention of blood diamond trade. Blood diamonds refer to diamonds which are mined in a war zone and the proceeds of their sale also fund the war.

The Kimberley Process was introduced to police the trade of these diamonds, however loopholes have been found in this diligent process too.

The process of diamond mining is tainted with conflicts, unethical practice and procedural loopholes.
The cost of Mined diamonds is more than just financial, it also bears a cost on the global environment.

It has been found that the process is more about box-ticking, or risk mitigation. The KP means that only countries which are Kimberley Process participants can trade diamonds with each other - but doing so only means putting a legal statement on their import invoices stating that they are KP compliant and don’t contribute to funding conflict, without any real investigation.

An oversight that continues in diamond mining is the human element. Whilst a country like Angola has been KP certified for over two decades, they have previously been implicated in evidence of human rights abuse with videos surfacing of security at mines beating and abusing miners. Though it’s a stretch to say all mined diamonds have this reality beneath the surface, it proves that not enough is done to police production and trade as a whole.

Can jewellery be totally eco-friendly?

Jewellers are well aware of the changing tides in the fine jewellery industry, and know that consumers want to be involved in the conversation about where the stone is from, and whether the stone was mined ethically or grown sustainably. If they can’t give you an answer – there are many more jewellers in the sea.

As with any personal products like clothing and beauty, jewellery production means using resources, energy and raw materials, not to mention the fuel and energy used to transport products across the world. At Cullen Jewellery we strive to be transparent about how we are taking steps to make our jewellery as ethical and sustainable as possible.

The Cullen Jewellery Impact Report has all the information about our sustainability and ethics goals, and how we are achieving them.

Our Cullen Jewellery Impact Report highlights our sustainability and ethics goals and the steps that we are taking to achieve these goals.

Our commitments to sustainability means we have not only pledged against mining, but also limit our use of finite resources like precious metals; and we instead prioritise using recycled metals in all of our jewellery. We are against forced and gild labour, and require all of our suppliers to provide detailed documents containing the ages and working environments for all their employees, whilst also carrying out regular audits to ensure this is maintained.

Are all lab diamond engagement rings sustainable?

This is the million-dollar question, and one you’ll get a few variations of an answer on. Yes, lab-grown diamonds are largely much more sustainable than mining diamonds from the ground which is an energy intensive process. Growing lab diamonds does consume energy as the processes used to grow diamonds mimic the environment in which mined diamonds grow. The energy used in this  process is still only a fraction of that used to mine potential diamonds; diamond mining doesn’t always result in actually finding any diamonds, rather the mining is done in areas with a high probability of having diamonds.

At Cullen Jewellery, we are proud to provide our clients with diamonds that are 100% carbon neutral.

Some lab-grown diamond brands go a step further and are involved in sustainable or social CSR projects. At Cullen Jewellery, our diamonds are 100% Carbon Neutral, certified by Clear Neutral .

What is ethical diamond mining?

“Ethically mined” is a phrase you might hear from jewellers who continue to sell mined diamonds in response to their environmental impact. This usually means measures have been put in place to ensure the environmental impact and social risks of mining diamonds are reduced.

Whilst jewellers are welcome to make claims about ethically mined diamonds, be sure they can provide proof, or at the very least explain the process to you.

So what should you choose? The decision is up to you. If having a mined diamond is non-negotiable to you, put effort in finding a jeweller who can confirm where your diamond came from, and can ensure it was mined as ethically as possible. If you have your heart set on a sustainable lab-grown engagement ring, browse our range of 100% Carbon Neutral engagement rings , or get in touch to discuss them in more detail.

View our range of Lab-Grown Diamonds here