Are customers willing to pay more for ethical jewellery?
With the price of ethically sourced jewellery higher than regular jewellery, are customers willing to pay more? And what constitutes ethical jewellery?
Similar to buying organic food at a super market some are willing to pay more for “better” made food however with jewellery being considered a luxury item, the idea is that you spend more or “treat yourself”.
Although prices are competitive and customers are becoming more conscious with their spending says Olivia Cummings, of artisan jewellery label Cleopatra’s Bling.
Although Stuart Pool of Nineteen48, a specialist in responsibly-mined and fully-traceable coloured gemstones says many jewellers go to local gem traders and don’t think whether or not their gemstones are ethically sourced. Pool says “often they won’t give too much thought to the rather complicated path that the gemstone will have taken in order to arrive there.”
According to Pool an ethical supply chain for jewellery starts with miners who are working under safe conditions and who are paid well. Pool says the process of making ethical jewellery is very long and goes through about eight steps, starting with mining. Pool works directly with miners in Sri Lanka and Tanzania and says the process begins from the broker and follows through to the cutter, the treatment plant to enhance colour or heat treat, the laboratory and then the gem lab for the certificate. It then goes through the export and import phase and is dealt with by traders and marketed to the jewellery designer.
Pool says there are two main areas of focus with ethically sourced jewellery including the people, ensuring work conditions are safe and that they are paid fairly as well as the environment, where you must minimize your impact for example ensuring you’re not causing harm to habitats and trees.
Some jewellers or companies have their own ethical statement or policy about ethical jewellery. It may include that a company is very passionate about wildlife and donates 5% of every sale to a wildlife charity. Pool suggests choosing an ethical policy that really matches your brand and something you can “convey to your customers.”
If you want to look into buying some ethical jewellery, a safe bet is Fairtrade gold. Fairtrade gold comes from small-scale mining organisations (ASMOs) that meet the Fairtrade Standard for Gold and Precious Metals.
The gold has been responsibly mined and the miners have received Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium, which helps with social, environmental and economic development in their communities.
Pools says that information is freely available about the history of your jewellery with a number of vendors that will give you detailed background about the stones as well as evidence and communities that the stones come from and their responsible sourcing.
In terms of getting reliable gemstone traders Pool says you’ll get an understanding of whether or not traders know where the stones came from, from asking them questions.
At the end of the day, Pool says it’s up to the customers to make an informed decision on whether or not to buy ethically made jewellery, just as we would make the choice whether or not to buy fair trade coffee.