The jewelry industry was recently rocked by a scandal regarding one of its largest members. For an industry that is often in the spotlight for human rights abuses and environmental issues, this is a serious problem. The allegations that this company’s sale of conflict-free diamonds is a scam will impact the way jewelers do business going forward. And especially how they support the claims made about their jewelry.
The “Conflict-Free Diamonds” Scandal
A video emerged alleging that one of the largest jewelry company in the industry does not actually sell diamonds that can be proven to be conflict-free. This was a serious and stunning allegation against a brand built on its doctrine of ethical and eco-friendly products supporting change in the industry and made its name for ‘conflict-free diamonds’.
Considering the controversy, canadadiamonds.com, one of the leading suppliers of Canadian certified diamonds, and they, in fact, stated:
“No… [the company in question] does not use Canadamark. When you visit their website and see their Canadian certification it’s clearly something they have printed out. Their customers don’t receive independent verification like a Canadamark card.”
The controversy surrounding this issue of ‘conflict-free diamonds’ illustrates why consumers too must do their own due diligence. They have a part to play in ensuring that the brand they choose to buy personal items from is as reputable as they claim. Any manufacturer should be able to provide proof of their claims.
Levels of Certification
And speaking of proof, this leads us to how you prove the claims you make – certifications. There are three levels of certifications that consumers need to be aware of.
- Diamond Grading Certification
These are certifications on the quality (grading) of a diamond in terms of the 4Cs – Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. These certifications are generally provided by independent labs such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS). These labs offer consistent and reliable gradings.
- Precious Metal Certification
Then there is the certification for the precious metals used in the making of jewelry. Based on the nature of the brand, certain types of metals are used. For example, at Bashford, we prefer to use recycled gold and other recycled precious metals. We first verified that the supplier from which we source our recycled metals is independently certified by SCS Global Services. SCS is the industry respected standards for certifying manufacturers who offer 100% recycled content.
- Conflict-Free Certification
Finally, there is the ‘Conflict-free’ certification that a lot of ethical jewelry companies seek to provide. We all know the issues with the Kimberley Process Certification (KP) and as such jewelers seek to distance themselves as more ethically-conscious brands that go beyond the KP. The most sought after certification relates to Canadian diamonds. They are marketed as a socially responsible and ethical source for diamonds that addresses the issues that the KP falls short in.
For certified Canadian Diamonds, these are generally identified by a CanadaMarkTM card. This illustrates that the diamonds were independently verified, and traceable from mine to retailer. And throughout the diamond process, they can ensure that ‘blood diamonds’ did not enter their supply chain. Or any human rights abuses, for example, in their independent diamond polishing facilities.
Why Certification Matters and where do we go from here
Conflict-free diamonds do exist beyond the scope of the KP. It is, however, how the companies representing these diamonds prove that they are supplying what they market. Proper certification enables customers to verify that the claims a brand makes are in fact true. And this helps for issues such as grading your jewelry for insurance purposes.
We truly regret hearing these allegations levied against such a prominent brand because, if proven true, it extends the taint on its conflict-free image to other brands. And it will set back the progress made in an industry often riddled with injustices and conflicts the world over.
At Bashford, we will continue to do our best to ensure that we provide our customers with the quality they seek and certified ethically-responsible jewelry.