A 2017 study found that 88% of Millennial consumers are more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues while 76% will refuse to purchase a company’s product or service upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. By tapping into this important trend of ethical sourcing, retailers can connect with their clients’ growing awareness. Jewelers who demonstrate their social conscience help win their client’s confidence.
“First, do no harm.” Clients expect a guarantee that source materials for their jewelry are from conflict-free areas and that local mining does not harm the environment or the mining communities. But beyond that consumers want a positive impact from the process of production. They want their treasured ring or pendant to positively contribute to the quality of life in indigenous areas, to “give back” to the source, increasing prosperity and social justice. You can use these stories of socially responsible sourcing to create the meaningful experience enlightened consumers crave.
Tiffany Stevens, President of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) shares the broad view: “We in the jewelry trade are purveyors of the power of emotion and pieces that are handed down through generations. Part of that importance is the responsible sourcing of the metals and stones used in our goods and highlighting that to the consumer. There are minimum legal standards and many systems you can opt into to ensure the raw materials you use in the pieces you are selling have been sourced in a way that goes beyond basic standards and supports humanity and the planet.”
David Craig Rotenberg of David Craig Jewelers in Bucks County, PA shares: “We embrace the concept of ethical sourcing. It’s a good idea to maintain this posture both for the future of the environment and because it assures the jewelry buyer that we’re not only treating the earth with respect but everything with respect. One current issue is the carbon foot print of lab grown diamonds. Are they actually more environmentally friendly as is often advertised? This issue is currently under further investigation.”
By the time the movie “Blood Diamond” was released in 2006, the crisis in “conflict diamonds” had already peaked. De Beers’s proactive introduction of the self-monitoring Kimberly Process had already averted major violations. But more work needs to be done.
The JVC in an excellent new website (https://jvclegal.org/responsible-sourcing/) explains: “The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD) has established the leading international standard to increase responsibility and transparency in jewelry supply chain. Yet criminal activity, forced and child labor and environmental abuses still remain.”
Tamara Toms of Carreras Jewelers in Richmond, VA explains: “We still have people coming in concerned about the ethical sourcing of diamonds based on the ‘Blood Diamond’ exposé. We can offer to provide them Canadian diamonds as an alternative. Or an American Gem Society (AGS) supplier, Dharmanandan Diamonds, offers a new ‘diamond provenance journey,’ a Blockchain enabled Diamond Time-Lapse report transparently detailing the complete diamond voyage from mine to finger.”
What can you as the retail jeweler do? Join various organizations such as the Responsible Jewelry Council. Display your commitment to ethical sourcing in your advertising and literature. Use it in your sales pitches. It’s a great selling point! The award winning documentary “Sharing the Rough” documents the process of following a gemstone from deep within an East African mine to the creation of an heirloom that will last for generations. Use the story behind the stone to romance the sale.
Today we walk more lightly on the earth. Why does this matter to you? Because it matters to your increasingly sophisticated clients. By demonstrating environmental awareness, you reveal to your clients our common concern for the future of our planet, gaining their allegiance and trust. Good ethics means good business. It’s a story that sells.
Mia Katrin is an award-winning jewelry designer featured in over 100 top stores nationally. She is available for lectures and seminars. To add her Collections or book a lecture: www.jeweljewel.com, 877-539-3569, facebook.com/MiaKatrinforJEWELCOUTURELLC, subscribe to her YouTube channel www.youtube.com/channel/UC2B-53XBuB_HD5-bofc5jAA