Sustainability Sparkles at Jewelry Industry Summit

By: Catalina Quintana, Senior Account Executive

Over the last decade, the jewelry industry has faced heightened pressure to take action on social and environmental issues. From Hollywood’s elite to a more socially conscious generation, consumers want all that glitters to be sustainable. And at this year’s Jewelry Industry Summit, manufacturers, producers and retailers joined forces to discuss how to advance industry efforts with an eye toward responsible sourcing. Cone had a front seat, with Executive Vice President Lisa Manley taking center stage to talk through the industry’s four biggest areas of opportunity in corporate responsibility.

  1. Sourcing transparently: Today’s consumers expect companies to have ethical business practices – and luxury goods are no exception, with 75 percent of consumers reporting they care where and how diamonds are mined. Rio Tinto, one of the world’s leading diamond producers, addressed consumer sourcing concerns when it launched its Diamonds with a Story initiative to unlock the story behind the origin of its diamonds. The company’s interactive microsite offers a look inside the company’s mines, suppliers and diamond collections to help arm retailers with an emotional narrative to better educate, engage and connect with consumers.
  2. Collaborating for impact: To transform the jewelry industry, it will require collaboration across the value chain to innovate and problem-solve around complex social and environmental challenges. Last year, Signet Jewelers took action to push the integrity of its global diamond supply chain further by launching The Responsible Sourcing Protocol for Diamonds. The collaborative effort brought together input from industry members, governments and manufacturers to develop a set of robust standards requiring suppliers to undertake due diligence when sourcing diamonds delivered to Signet, the world’s largest diamond jewelry retailer. The launch also marked a rallying cry for companies in the diamond industry to adopt and implement the protocol in their own supply chains.
  3. Standing up for human rights: Companies within the jewelry industry are exploring ways to improve the livelihoods of artisans in their supply chain. Brilliant Earth announced a partnership with the Diamond Development Initiative to fund an innovative education pilot program to regulate artisanal mining in at least one diamond-producing country. The pilot initiative, which aims to directly address human rights issues, is one of many efforts Brilliant Earth supports as part of its commitment to ensure its business is helping to establish new artisanal diamond mining programs that pay fair wages and respect workers and the environment.
  4. Taking it from the top: To break through from the pack, companies are putting their values first by standing up for issues core to their business. Tiffany & Company has never shied away from speaking up for issues it believes in – with a longstanding history of advocating for the protection of the outdoors, from national parks to coral reefs. In 2002, the company was among the first to stop using coral in jewelry. With the support of senior leadership at Tiffany & Company, sustainability has become embedded in the company’s values and culture.

As the jewelry industry continues to grapple with complex social and environmental challenges across its supply chains, 2017 marks an important year for transparency, collaboration, impact and innovation. Companies that aren’t afraid to take consumers along their journey of mining for sustainability will outshine the competition.