Why I’ll continue to source diamonds from Namibia

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Ethical jeweller Jon Dibben on the limitations of Canadian diamonds.

By Jon Dibben

The decision-making process for most jewellery consumers chiefly revolves around design and cost; generally the number of people interested in ethical issues is fairly limited at the moment.

For us, being ethical is not a business decision; it’s a desire to want to do things differently. Putting ethical issues aside, the Canadian diamond brands seem to be very polished with their marketing and story, so will probably do well in the UK, even if they struggle to compete on price.

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As always ethics comes down to a personal choice of what you want to achieve. Canadian diamonds offer a good route if all you’re interested is traceability and the avoidance of so-called conflict-free diamonds. However there are issues with the environment and land rights of indigenous people connected with Canadian diamonds.

The holy grail for jewellers interested in responsible sourcing is to purchase diamonds which financially benefit the indigenous people of the area or country in which the stones are mined. These are often marginalised and disadvantaged people so the potential for African people as a nation to benefit directly from the resources of their country is an attractive possibility.

For this reason the stones I am sourcing are mined, cut and polished in Namibia. There are exciting moves towards the development of fair trade diamonds, although it’s obviously quite a complex process.

Jon Dibben was one of the first Fairtrade gold licensees in the UK. He uses diamonds that are conflict free and, where possible, independently certified. This column was taken from the August issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.

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