The focus of the June issue of Professional Jeweller was supposed to be on fine jewellery.
And while it still is, with an interview with major luxury retail player Watches of Switzerland, a feature on award-winning fine jewellery brand Fope, and an analysis of the high-end sector of the market, my personal focus went elsewhere.
Instead of researching the styling and retail trends dominating the fine jewellery market, I found myself looking further into the cost of jewellery. And by cost, I don’t mean price tags. I mean the hidden cost many are trying so hard to ignore.
And, as I have looked into it further, I have become even more convinced that the trade has got to take a stand for what is right, ethical and fair.
It feels like whenever someone mentions the word ‘ethics’, eyes roll. But why?
Our industry is literally built on the success of the trade producing and selling the most beautiful jewellery, but how can we do so in good conscience when the stories of production fit more comfortably into the horror section of Netflix, than the romantic genre we like to pretend it does.
We’ve got to think of the individuals throughout the supply chain and consider their role. Would you want you or someone you love working in dangerous conditions without a fair wage? Would you be willing to swap places with a diamond or gemstone miner? Would you be comfortable meeting the people behind the jewels you sell and looking them in the eye, or would you feel ashamed that you’ve been profiting from their hard work and not done anything to help?
Ethical jewellery is not a trend, it is a lifestyle. By not considering the supply chain or making changes to improve it, we aren’t ignoring the next best seller, we are ignoring other people’s lives.
Now I don’t want to come across too heavy. I just want to share the reality we are facing. With the internet we can no longer hide from the daunting stories of our trade. We need to face them, and do our part to change them.
Yes, consumers are becoming more conscious, but trade, shouldn’t we be ahead of them? Don’t wait for someone to come in and ask questions. Ask them first.
I am pleased to say we do have many in this industry advocating for an ethical supply chain, and I enjoyed hearing more of their stories during the Fashion Revolution social media campaign last month.
I’m not suggesting you transform your business overnight, and I certainly don’t expect any company or individual to go at it alone, but I do think now is the time to take your first step on the road towards an ethical supply chain you can be proud of.
If you’re not sure where to start, contact the NAJ or an organisation like the Responsible Jewellery Council, or individuals who form part of Fair Luxury.