Seminar at IJL reveals ethical standards matter to 83% of consumers.

Consumers are driving change when it comes to ethically sourced jewellery, according to a panel of industry experts speaking at International Jewellery London (IJL) on Sunday August 31.

The changing focus of the average jewellery consumer was discussed in depth during a seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility at IJL, chaired by chief executive officer of the British Jewellers’ Association Simon Rainer, alongside president of The World Jewelry Confederation (CIBJO) Gaetano Cavalieri, chairman of the Responsible Jewellery Council James Courage, and co-director for Trust and Ethical Behaviour (CETEB) and professor of Marketing at Coventry University, Marylyn Carrigan.


According to professor Carrigan, 83% of consumers think ethical materials and retail matters to them, while 39% admit their decisions are affected by ethical factors. Finally, 38% of consumers are willing to spend more on good if they know they are ethically sourced.

Whereas consumers were once happy to spend money on items they knew very little about, Carrigan believes there has now been a shift in attitudes, with customers more likely to see ethical and Fairtrade status as a unique selling point.

Also during the seminar, Carrigan argued that a huge number of customers have been impacted by popular culture when it comes to their view of the precious metal and gemstone mining industries, especially by films like Leonardo Dicaprio’s Blood Diamond.

Interestingly, research presented at the seminar suggests the prevailing opinion among consumers is that fine and luxury products are not produced under harmful conditions, simply because they carry a higher price-tag – irrespective of a company’s own internal CSR policies.

Members of the UK jewellery industry should now attempt to engage consumers on the issue of ethical jewellery, with Carrigan suggesting retailers should “nudge consumers to consider it normal to buy ethical”.

This changing perception among consumers is also reflected in the growth of the Responsible Jewellery Council, which has experienced a 20% growth per annum in total membership over the last five years.