Corporate Social Responsibility diamond mines conflict minerals

Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Scott Cooney

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Buying Jewelry for Valentine’s Day? Avoid Conflict Diamonds

The trend for men spending more than women in preparation for Valentines Day is a global one, as early figures released in the U.S. seem to confirm. According to the study cited above, male consumers are planning to spend an estimated 75% more than their female companions on gifts and events this year.

On the Inspired Economist, we often talk about externalities: the true cost of a product that is externalized by a company operating in bad way and footed by society. What’s often not represented in the price of jewelry, for instance, is the environmental and social costs of the jewelry. Conflict minerals, a term used to describe metals and gems coming from areas that are war-torn as a result of unfair labor practices by some of the world’s largest jewelers and mining companies, are a prevalent challenge to someone seeking to buy their loved one a gift this Valentine’s Day.

Buying Jewelry for Your Loved Ones: How to do it successfully with minimum impact

There are a number of ways to shop this Valentine’s Day for better products, if you know what you’re looking for. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was set up in 2003 to prevent so called “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream diamond market. Basically, the process was an attempt by the international community to regulate a global market and ensure that less money is flowing to diamond mines that helped fuel conflict and/or human rights abuses.

While the intent was good, in 2011, the weakness of the program was finally revealed when the Kimberley Process certified a mine known for producing blood diamonds. The devil, as it turns out, was in the details. The Process only covered diamonds funding rebel armies in areas of conflict. It didn’t sanction violence by a government against its own people. In Zimbabwe under former President Mugabe, corruption reigned for years, and yet the Kimberley Process gave its stamp of approval to the Marange Mine there, despite ample evidence of violence.

As jewelry is one of the most popular purchases among male consumers, we’d love it if you could send this article to any men in your life who are thinking about getting some jewelry this Valentine’s Day, so they can think about avoiding conflict diamonds. Selecting the right piece of jewelry for your partner can be challenging.

Learn about social responsibility of the jewelry industry. We recommend asking retailers if they can certify in writing that their jewelry is ethically sourced. Retailers who know the exact supply chain and point of origin of their diamonds, will be able to put their reputation on the line and certify your purchase as having not caused unnecessary harm in its origin.

If you’re shopping online, most online retailers have a wide range of jewelry options available. First and foremost, and by all means, get something your loved one prefers. The online retailer should have some information readily available as to the origins of the product, so search for socially responsible options. If your honey is really into socially responsible diamonds and other jewelry, why not personalise your gift choice?  The customisation of existing products is one of the leading trends on the consumer market, allowing individuals to create unique gifts for their loved ones. By adding an engraved message about the ethical source of your gift, you’ll be showcasing your love for your partner, and your desire to help workers and the environment at the same time. This personalization can really elevate its sentimental value and enhance its emotional impact.

Not interested in diamonds or other jewelry? Here’s some other V-day ideas:

Vegan Chocolate Hearts

Free Valentine’s E-Cards

 

Diamond Mine Photo from Shutterstock






About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on



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