Gemstones and Responsible Sourcing

By Karen S Nash MA MPhil MCIEEM FRGS
Director, MDS Mining & Environmental Services Ltd


ethics and minesGemstone mining and trade is not without its obligations for responsible practice - environmental, social and human rights impacts are never far from the surface. The global supply chain is making efforts to gain control over the sourcing and processing of the gems it sells, and increasing its resolve to procure with due consideration paid to responsible practice.

Fair trade, labour standards, social investment and environmental performance evaluation are all aspects of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ activities. Review and audit criteria are under various stages of development in collaboration with industry experts.

Specific standards and guidelines have been in existence for many years (for example the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains, IFC Environmental and Social Performance Standards, Kimberley Process Certificate Scheme, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, Vendor Codes of Conduct, Conflict Minerals, and various mining and minerals Fair Trade developments). Some companies in the luxury sector have developed their own environmental and social standards and there is potential for this approach to be transferred to the gemstone sector.

Sustainable luxury is possible. The twin goals of traceability and transparency are in sight. Given continued resolve, companies will be able to assure customers that their products have been ethically created without compromising luxury and long term value.