Ethics and Sustainability: New Gem and Jewelry Standards
Ethics and social responsibility have long been discussed regarding business operation, governmental administration, and products and services offered to customers. Besides economy, consumers currently turn to focus on life quality and environment. Evidently, many countries across the globe, which had concentrated solely on economic growth without quality have been facing social and environmental problems. The 1996 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) states that economic growth “quality” is more important than economic growth “rate” because quality is more sustainable.
Sustainability Trends Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
Many countries’ fashion industry has been strongly anticipating its post-pandemic recovery. One of the most talked about topics is fashion industry’s development toward sustainability. A survey of McKinsey regarding consumers’ attitude over sustainability and fashion industry in Germany and the UK indicates that 88% of the consumers were willing to pay more to reduce pollutions causing by fashion products. In order to reach the goal, 67% of the consumers agreed with using products made from recycled materials, while 61% agreed with buying products with environmental-friendly packagings.
In addition, surveys on confidence in many countries’ economy were conducted. It was found that 58% of respondents in China and India believed that their countries would bounce back or become even stronger within 2-3 months after the pandemic. Respondents in Indonesia, the US, Mexico, and Brazil follow with the rate of 53%, 42%, 35%, and 28% respectively. The result reflects recovery opportunity of the gem and jewelry industry as many of them are the industry’ key markets.
Ethics and Sustainability in Gem and Jewelry
Ethics and sustainability have been recognized and practiced by many sectors. The gem and jewelry industry has also built awareness and specified the definition of ethics. For the industry, ethics includes transparency and responsibility in sourcing and sustainable use of raw materials with the least environmental impacts as well as fair wages and safe environment for workers. According to the definition, it covers from upstream to downstream - transparent mining, providing good hygiene for workers, offering origin traceability throughout supply chain, being mindful of possible impacts to environment and neighboring communities, using reused or recycled materials, and giving fair wages.
A survey of ExJewel, research company promoting ethics and transparency in the gem and jewelry industry, reveals that in 2020 the figures of search on keywords related to ethics and gem and jewelry were as follows: ethical jewelry, ethical diamond, and ethical gold increased from the previous year by 75%, 75%, and 73%; lab grown diamond jumped 83%; sustainable engagement ring rose 65% year-on-year; and Art Nouveau Jewelry skyrocketed by 113%. The figures show that consumers’ behavior regarding gem and jewelry consumption shifted to ethical jewelry. They have been eyeing synthetic diamonds to replace natural ones. Motifs representing natures like Art Nouveau have also been rising in popularity. The reactions could partly be due to the pandemic, which boosted their awareness over the matters.
Moreover, ExJewel listed 10 ethical jewelry brands as follows.