Matthew Ashton

Written by

Matthew Ashton

4 minute read

Updated 14th February 2024

This week’s big news in the jewellery world was the announced partnership between Lily James, the British Emmy-nominated actress, and Only Natural Diamonds, with Lily installed as the new Head of Global Partnerships. 

Governed by the Natural Diamond Council, a group of influential folk across the world of jewellery and diamonds, they aim to “enhance the world of natural diamond jewellery, in support of more than 10 million industry employees and their families worldwide, and we will continue to promote the industry alongside our many global partners”. (You can read about their mission here).

This partnership announcement, rightly, puts ethical diamonds and single-mine origin gold in the spotlight. 

How much do we know about ethically sourced diamonds and gold? When purchasing an item of jewellery, little consideration is given to the origins and production flow of diamonds and gold. 

In this 3-minute short read, we ride the coat tales of the new Lily James partnership and answer two essential questions:

  1. What are ethical diamonds
  2. What is single-mine origin gold?

What are ethical diamonds? 

Ethical diamonds, often called “conflict-free diamonds” or “responsibly sourced diamonds,” are mined and produced with a focus on ethical, social, and environmental considerations. These considerations aim to address and mitigate the negative impacts associated with traditional diamond mining, particularly the issues related to “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds.”

Characteristics of ethically sourced diamonds include:

  1. Human Rights: Ethical diamonds are sourced to ensure they do not contribute to armed conflicts or human rights abuses.
  2. Responsible Practices: Ethical diamond mining operations adhere to responsible environmental and labour practices. This includes minimising the environmental impact of mining, ensuring safe working conditions for miners, and respecting the rights and well-being of local communities.
  3. Traceability: Ethical diamond producers often provide detailed information about the origin of their diamonds, allowing consumers to trace the diamond’s journey from the mine to the market.
  4. Credentials: Various organisations and initiatives, such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), have established standards and certification processes for ethical diamonds.
  5. Supporting Communities: Ethical diamond mining operations often contribute to the development and well-being of local communities by providing employment opportunities, education, healthcare, and other social benefits.
  6. Eco Practices: Some ethical diamond producers prioritise environmentally sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly mining techniques, minimising water and energy consumption, and rehabilitating mined areas.

While ethical and responsible diamond mining operations exist, there can still be challenges in ensuring complete transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. As a result, if you want to be sure of the ethicality of your diamond purchase, seek out brands and jewellers that go beyond basic certification and have stringent ethical and sustainability standards in place for their entire supply chain. 

What is single-mine origin gold? 

Single-mine origin gold is sourced from a specific, traceable mining operation or location. It attempts to provide transparency and accountability in the gold supply chain by allowing consumers to know precisely where their gold comes from. This concept is similar to the idea of “single-origin” products in the food and beverage industry, where the origin of a product is highlighted to convey certain quality or ethical standards. 

British-based jewellers, like Boodles, proudly use single-mine origin gold in their collections

Features of single-mine origin gold:

  1. Traceability: Single-mined origin gold is typically traceable back to a specific mining site. This traceability ensures that the gold has not been mixed with gold from other sources.
  2. Transparency: Consumers can access information about the mining operation, its practices, and its adherence to ethical and environmental standards.
  3. Environmental Considerations: Single-mined origin gold often comes from mining operations prioritising ethical labour practices, responsible environmental stewardship, and community engagement. 
  4. Credentials: Some single-mine origin gold may be associated with specific labels that authenticate its origin. These certifications can include Fairtrade Gold or Responsible Jewellery Council certification, as an example. 

As a consumer, feel free to research and confirm the claims made by your brand(s) of choice regarding the origin and ethical practices associated with their diamond and gold products. 

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Written by Matthew Ashton

I started working in the insurance industry in 2004. Four years later, I left to focus on theological studies, working as a youth worker and then as a ministry director in Seattle, USA. When returning to the UK, I had an opportunity to work for the late Andrew Marchington. I joined his firm as a sales advisor when it had around ten staff members. Within three years, I was Head of Ops with a staff team of over 30 people. After a chance encounter in 2019 with Rachel Living and Will Cooper, I co-started Stanhope to build a high-value home, luxury watch, and jewellery broker synonymous with trust. I love being with Donna, my wife, and four kids when not working, cramming in the odd row, or running when I can. I am fortunate to love what I do and consider it a blessing to grow the Stanhope brand.

Matthew Ashton

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