Ben Feder of Feder Jewellery discusses the issues surrounding sustainable jewellery.
“In America they call it ‘bling bling’ here they call it ‘bling bang” said Danny Archer, a fictional character in the film ‘Blood Diamonds’ played by Leonardo DiCaprio. It seems that since then we all started asking ourselves what is the added cost of the diamonds we buy at the local jeweller.
The reason this topic became so hot and still occupy our mind even when looking at the latest red carpet star mainly derives from the fact that the diamond industry is extremely obscure, with little to no regulatory intervention all at the same time while being shiny and glitzy which evidently kept us from looking at some of the horrors the industry promoted.
Yet a lot of water went under the bridge since the movie came out back in 2006 so are we in a better place or has nothing changed and we preferred to look the other way? As anything in life the answer is – it depends.
Sure high-street jewellers now emphasise the importance of using sustainable materials and the big mining groups constantly show the media about their improvements in this area. Yet there are two main changes which can make a difference – mindset and technology.
Although most of us are unaware of this, but this change has already been implemented. First as consumers we ask many more questions about where our products come from (across various industries) and second most gemmological institutes that certify diamonds are using extreme measures to ensure all of the diamonds they certify are indeed conflict-free.
With recent blockchain technology it seems that we might be able to track each diamond to its origin, how it was mined, polished and delivered to the end client, taking into account every stop on the way – no more smuggling rocks across the border for you Leo.
It seems that we are going in a good direction, we are more mindful of what we buy and some measures are taken in the supply-chain process. So why is it then this is an issue all these years still. How come we don’t focus on harsh labour condition in developing countries where most of what we consume is produced? When have we lately stopped and asked how many breaks did the worker who built our phone had while constructing it? Or how dense is the air in a cramped garment factory?
The reason for that is because in the diamond and jewelley industry there is someone to ask. It’s an industry where local businesses still have a grip on the market and personal relationships and trust are more important than 1M followers on social media. Try walking into a high street fashion brand store and ask about the sustainability of their clothes, now do the same with your trusted jeweller (if you have one) and measure the difference.
Final thought; focusing on making the lives of low level workers is great, but let’s do it across all segments of society and focus less on glamorous celebs that buy a Prius and sustainable jewellery to ‘make a statement’.
About the expert
Ben Feder, the 4th generation of a family of jewellers dating back to 1919, is revolutionising the way women buy jewellery. While growing up in a female dominated environment, surrounded by women who understood the power jewellery has and its ability to sharpen every woman’s look, he is trying to bring back the old habit of wearing fine jewellery. Using his family’s expertise and experience, he has created a line of fine jewellery which is fashionable, reasonably priced and can be worn daily. Ben urges women to think about things like cost-per-wear and promotes smart consumerism concepts when talking to his clients. Learn more about Feder Jewellery at www.federjewellery.com.