What exactly is ethical mining?
Here at Dainty London, we’re proud to be at the forefront of sustainable jewellery. Whilst we have many more plans in the pipeline to make our jewellery even kinder to the planet – we’re looking to use Fairtrade gold and gold vermeil in the not so distant future – our use of recycled sterling silver ensures those extra special pieces that form part of your jewellery collection do more good than harm.
The industry’s use of ethical mining is also paving the way for better sustainability amongst conscious jewellery brands like us. But what is ethical mining and why is it an important box to tick for jewellery brands and wearers going forward?
An introduction to ethical mining
It may surprise you to hear that although the global gemstone market is worth an estimated $23 billion, there are currently no industry bodies that are charged with tracing the supply chain of these stunning stones.
A gemstone’s journey from mine to market can be a treacherous one, and some have taken matters into their own hands to ensure better transparency at every stage.
The rise of ethical mining has swiftly followed, with ethical mines that offer better safety standards now revered by many brands and collectors looking for responsibly sourced stones and metals.
What makes a mine ethical?
Many factors make a mine ethical. Mine environments are extremely hazardous to the health of workers and the wider community as Green America explains:
“Diamond miners often work in cramped and unsafe conditions in tunnels, and dust from the mines can cause respiratory diseases in workers and residents of nearby communities. Mining of colored gemstones, such as rubies and emeralds, is generally done on a smaller scale than diamond mining, but still holds risks.”
Whether mining metals, diamonds or other gemstones, an ethical mine must uphold good safety standards and pay its workers a fair wage. It should also invest in the tools, equipment and training needed to safeguard its workers as much as possible.
Ethical mines also present a lower environmental impact than other mines. Whilst all mines have some degree of environmental impact, steps are taken by ethical mines to minimise these damaging effects.
Keeping the size of the mine small - or ‘artisanal’ as it is known within the industry – and mining only seasonally or part-time with low impact hand tools is thought to have the lowest environmental impact.
The importance of ethical gemstones
The traceability of gemstones has been brought into focus with the rise of ethical mining.
Unlike the mining of diamonds and metals, the supply chain of gemstones is much more complex with gemstones often mined, cut and sold in completely different countries. It’s not unusual for gemstones to be mined ethically but then transported to and cut in a setting where working conditions are poor.
Making the entire journey transparent is very much an uphill battle for those within the gemstone trade. But with more brands closing in on their sources and tracking gemstones from mine to market, and everywhere in between, better traceability and transparency is slowly being realised.
When choosing your gemstone, question its origins to ensure your investment is an ethical one.