Gone are the days of blood diamonds. Or are they?
2003 saw the introduction of the Kimberley certification, an international scheme to ensure the diamond trade does not contribute to violent conflict. But just like in fashion, full transparency when shopping for that very special ring is the exception rather than the norm.
Luckily there are ethical jewellery experts Ingle & Rhode, who can ensure you know exactly where that special gem comes from and have sound advice on how to get top quality that really does last forever.
We spoke to one of its founders, David Rhode, on how to ensure your purchase not only sparkles, but has a great story to tell.
What should someone looking for an engagement or wedding ring be looking out for?
In terms of quality, it’s worth checking where the ring has been made and whether it is a mass-produced design. Ideally, you should be looking for something made by master craftspeople in the UK.
Regarding ethics, it’s important to ask about the sourcing of the raw materials. If a retailer can’t tell you where their metals and gemstones come from, then they shouldn’t be making any ethical claims.
If most diamonds sold in the UK are certified conflict-free, what makes Ingle & Rhode’s approach special?
The vast majority of diamonds in the UK are Kimberley-certified, which is meant to ensure that they are conflict free, but in reality it does not guarantee this. In order to be certain that a diamond is conflict-free and ethically produced, you need to be able to trace it all the way back to source, which the Kimberley certification does not do.
Beyond the issue of conflict diamonds, there are other problems in the industry around the exploitation of workers, and lack of health and safety. It’s only if you insist on full traceability back to source that you can be confident your purchase hasn’t contributed to these problems - it’s that which distinguishes our approach from most of the industry.
In your view, is there a compromise to be made between finding the perfect ring and choosing an ethical one?
There used to be - when I got engaged a decade ago I couldn’t find a ring of the quality I wanted without having to compromise my ethics. We founded Ingle & Rhode to address this issue.
Do all your customers seek you out specifically because of your ethical sourcing, or do some just stumble across you because the designs appeal to them?
It’s a mixed bag. A lot of clients find us on google by searching for terms like ‘ethical diamonds’, ‘ethical engagement rings’ and so on. But a lot of clients come through word of mouth referral, and they tend to be less interested in ethics and more influenced by their friends having had a good experience with us.
Are you seeing a trend towards more ethical consumption, or do you think this will remain a niche?
We’re certainly seeing strong year on year growth, but it’s really difficult to predict how far it could go. It seems unlikely that ethical consumerism is a bubble waiting to burst.
For more in depth information on Ingle & Rhode’s work with ethical diamond, gemstones and precious metals, as well as their beautiful collection of rings and bespoke service, visit their website.
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