The Diamond Source Initiative by Tiffany & Co aims to make the industry more transparent
If we could describe the 21st-century Tiffany & Co in one word, it would be woke. Last week, the almost-200-year-old American jeweller made waves by announcing the Diamond Source Initiative. Tiffany & Co has become the first international brand that allows customers to trace the source of their diamonds, from mine to finger. This will only be applicable to newly sourced, individually registered diamonds, weighing 0.18-carats and above. At Tiffany & Co boutiques around the world, the country of provenance will be indicated next to each diamond display.
Each diamond that you buy from Tiffany & Co will be laser-engraved with a unique T&CO serial number, invisible to the naked eye, and will come with information about the mine that it was sourced from. As of the first quarter of 2019, it'll be accompanied by a certificate too, with details such as provenance. As of 2020, customers will also be privy to the craftsmanship journey - that is, where the diamond was cut and polished.
This focus on sustainability and ethics is not new for Tiffany & Co. In 2017, the brand was ranked second in a Human Rights Watch report about responsible sourcing of stones. The report noted that the jeweller regularly does due diligence of the mines it works with, and can trace its stone directly to its origin.
A few years ago, Tiffany & Co had also stopped using rubies from Myanmar for a while because of the appalling conditions of the mining community there. Moreover, it works hand-in-hand with the Tiffany & Co Foundation to protect the ocean, and no longer uses coral in its jewellery.
The Diamond Source Initiative is simply the next logical step in this journey, and one that makes sense in today's climate, as conscious consumers are particular about the provenance of their products. Natural stones are losing their lustre as some millennials are turning to lab-grown diamonds for the fact that they're ethically made. This is further reason for legacy brands such as Tiffany & Co to use their power, clout and sheer volume of business to drive change. The onus is on them to bridge the disparity between those wearing their jewels and those mining for the stones.
Most jewellers today comply with the Kimberley Process, and source from mines that are free from conflict diamonds - if you watched Blood Diamond, you'll know that it means diamonds that fund war. But it's not that straightforward: in some communities, miners are only paid if they find a stone. Child labour is rampant, while conditions can be dangerous.
Some countries, such as Botswana and Canada, have strict regulations in place by their governments that miners have to comply with. This journey to responsible sourcing is long and convoluted, but as long as powerful brands take the right steps and ask the right questions, they will be the drivers of change in this often-opaque industry.