Valentine's Day always brings an excuse to buy jewelry, whether for yourself or someone you love. Unfortunately, the sourcing of materials is often less beautiful than the products themselves, especially when it comes to stones. Almost everyone has heard the term "blood diamonds" but do you know what it really means? To shed light on the controversial topic, I tapped one of my favorite ethical jewelry designers, Tara Elwin of Tara 4779. Her delicate designs are an impeccable choice for Valentine's Day or any milestone (she has a blended metal collection that signifies percentages), because diamonds sourced right, just feel right.
Why are standard diamonds / diamond mines controversial?
A conflict or blood diamond has been mined in a war zone and the sale of the diamond helps finance the war/conflict.
Could you elaborate a bit on the conditions and conflicts surrounding the diamond industry?
The diamond industry has been known to perpetuate violence, use child labor, and cause environmental destruction not only during mining but also along the chain of processes (cutting/polishing).
What does "conflict free" mean when it comes to diamonds?
It means the diamond must have been mined in conditions with strict labor and environmental standards in an area that is free from bloodshed.
Why should we care?
Because it's always better to care about the affects we have on others and the environment. It's good karma.
How can we tell if a brand sources responsibly or not?
The best way is to inquire about their sources.
Are there other materials that we should be aware of their sourcing (like gold/silver etc)?
Yes, I prefer to use recycled metals (silver, gold, platinum) because it allows me to make the least amount of impact on the environment as possible.
Are there regions or countries that are worse or better for diamond sourcing?
Canada has a solid reputation for producing conflict free diamonds because they are mined under higher standards. You can also find conflict free diamonds in Australia, Russia, and some African countries.
Where do you source your materials?
I source my materials through reputable dealers within the Diamond District in Manhattan.
What else can we do to raise awareness/support the cause?
To become more knowledgeable about the products we buy in general and help spread that awareness to friends and family.