If you’re familiar with my business you’ll hopefully already know that I’m picky when it comes to choosing where I buy my gemstones from. This can sometimes mean that I can’t supply every colour under the rainbow, but as far as I’m concerned, ethics come first! There are loads of companies out there selling loose gemstones, but there are currently only a very small number who can tell you exactly where each one has come from and who has cut it.
So, there isn’t actually any type of official fairtrade badge yet that can be applied to diamonds and gemstones, as it is literally a bit of a minefield. There are massive scale mines that mine equally massive amounts of gemstones at very cheap prices. The rough stone that they mine could then be sent to any number of places in the world, but quite often its somewhere in India, to be cut. This again will likely be a huge factory type operation. With stones travelling all over the place, and typically the jewellery industry just not asking too many questions, this leaves many opportunities for miners and stone cutters to be forced to work in poor conditions for very poor wages.
Thankfully though, there are a couple of stone companies (the ones that I use!) that ARE asking questions and either have their own artisan mine and cutting facilities, or will only buy from sources where they know that everyone involved in the gemstone supply chain has been treated and paid fairly. The other two options are to use lab grown or recycled gems, both of which I also do.
Now, there’s obviously advantages and disadvantages to all of the “fairtrade” options, but my personal order of preference would be 1. Recycled, 2. Lab grown, 3. Mined, and my buying is always a mixture of the three, depending on what I can find and each client’s requirements.
As part of my effort to be completely transparent about where my gemstone score from, here’s the list of where I currently go “gemstone shopping”.......
1. Fairtrade Gemstones - coloured gemstones and fairly traded mined diamonds
2. Nineteen48 - coloured gemstones
3. Rubyfair - rubies/sapphires/spinel/tanzanite
4. Madestones - lab grown diamonds
5. Moissanite Direct Inc - Charles and Colvard lab grown Moissanite
6. Adin Antique Jewellery - recycled diamonds
7. John Gyde Gemstones - recycled diamonds and coloured stones
8. Gemstone Plateau - recycled coloured stones