The best possible source of diamonds would be from an organized small-scale mining community working under third-party audited fair trade standards in a developing country. Unfortunately, this scenario does not exist. Here's a short vid on how we define ethical jewelry.
We source diamonds from three different sources: Canadian mined, lab grown, and recycled. Concerning recycled diamonds, we use them mainly in our melee (small diamonds from 1mm to 3mm) in our rings and jewelry. However, we can generally source lab grown melee upon request. We explain why we don’t use other sources after the comparisons below.
On The Upside
- The Canadian government has strict environmental and labor standards at the Diavik and Ekati mines. (We do not source from De Beers Canadian mines because of De Beers’ complicity in the Blood Diamond atrocities.)
- Canadian diamond companies have Impact Benefit Agreements with First Nation groups.
- Diamonds are etched with the Canada Mark, assuring traceability from mine to market.
- The Canadian brand has no association with massively corrupt global supply chain.
- The mines have a huge regional environmental impact in one of the most pristine environments of the world. The great caribou herds are struggling.
- The Impact Benefit Agreements with First Nations People and employment opportunities are viewed by many as inadequate. Read this article we wrote on what’s going on at the De Beers Victor mine in Northern Onterio a few years ago.
- The carbon footprint from running mines in the northern tundra is massive.
- Choosing Canadian diamonds bypasses a critical issue: Africa needs a diamond mining economy. Canadian diamond miners make in a day what Africans make in a month.
- Our Canadian Diamonds supplier will not reveal where diamonds are polished.
The Diavik mine in Canada. Photo credit.
On The Upside
- Our recycled diamonds are purchased from scrapped jewelry either in our shop or from other companies.
- Recycled diamonds require no additional mining.
- Recycled diamonds in jewelry have no impact on current diamond mining practices whatsoever.
- There's no way to determine where the diamond was actually originally mined. A recycled diamond can be a conflict diamond. We don’t know.
- Recycled diamonds provide no local economy or opportunity for the 2 million plus impoverished small-scale diamond diggers.
- Choosing recycled diamonds bypasses a critical issue: African countries with diamond resources benefit from diamond sales.
Lab Grown Diamonds
On The Upside
- Diamonds are upwards of 30% less expensive than mined diamonds.
- There’s no issue of the diamond coming from black market or sources that are in conflict, use child labor in the digging of diamonds, or possibly violate human rights.
- Diamonds are indistinguishable from natural diamonds, in terms of appearance and chemical composition.
- Using a lab created diamond means that your diamond did not cause additional mining.
- Because the lab grown diamond industry is growing rapidly, there’s no guarantee that a lab grown diamond will hold value. The market is chaotic.
- Lab grown diamonds in jewelry have no impact on current diamond demand or mining practices worldwide. Countries in the developing world need the natural diamond economy.
- There's no benefit to impoverished small-scale diamond miners—victims of the blood diamond tragedy who need the trade to survive.
- If you are someone who believes that gemstones carry energy, the difference between a diamond naturally earth created verses a lab created stone might be important to you.
- Manufacturers in China and India may or may use child labor in polishing. We don't know because transparency on this issue is extremely rare.
Concluding Thoughts on Ethical Diamond Sourcing
We do not source diamonds from Russia, because the mine, Alrosa is owned by Russian oligarchs. Nor do we source our diamonds from Botswana, South Africa, or any other De Beers-owned company—because of De Beer’s connection to the blood diamond funded wars.
Some jewelers are putting forward a “fair trade diamond” from the Diamond Development Initiative. That too is part of De Beers. To us, that’s like making David Duke the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center. (See Death of a Fairtrade Diamond, which is part of our Ethical Jewelry Exposé.)
Small-Scale diamond miners in Sierra Leone. Their lives remain unchanged despite all the talk about "ethical sourcing" in the jewelry sector. Photo by Greg Valerio.
There’s a lot of discussion about lab grown diamonds being more “eco-friendly” than mined diamonds. In truth, this depends on where the lab grown and mined diamond were originated. There’s a huge difference between a small-scale miner finding a diamond in the dirt versus a full-on industrial operation that exists in the Northern territories of Canada. In order to really know the impact of your diamond, you have to determine its sourcing.
In context to the “conflict free” diamond claim, we consider the term itself an onerous cover up by the diamond sector for the deaths of 3.7 million people. No one was ever held accountable for those diamond funded-wars and there has never been any restitution to impacted communities. We do not use the term in our own marketing because we feel “conflict free diamonds” = African lives don’t matter.
By the way, if you want to a deeper analysis of these issues, read about how jewelers spin "conflict free diamonds" to fool the public in this chapter, The Conflict Free Diamond Deception, of our Ethical Jewelry Exposé.
*Our Sourcing Of Lab Grown Diamonds
Yet, just as for mined diamonds, where you source your lab grown diamond matters!
Our source for lab grown diamonds over roughly 1/5 carat is the Diamond Foundry, based in San Francisco. Our online selection of diamonds is identical to the one they have on their website. They source power from renewable resources, create jobs in the USA, and they are considered by many—including us—to be the premier ethical lab grown source in the industry. They are transparent about their polishing operations. They have their own factory in Xian, China, run by a family of 4th generation Belgium polishers. They have transparent and fair labor standards, top equipment, and obviously no child labor.
The Diamond Foundry does not have small melee diamond available, so we source from other suppliers who are not as transparent.