Traceability could prove to be a diamond’s best friend. In January, Tiffany & Co launched its Diamond Source Initiative, a project that aims to promote traceability and transparency in the diamond industry.
Until today, customers were able to know their diamonds’ cut and carat, but they could not have any reassurance about the mining conditions behind their gemstones: were they ethical or not?
From this year on, consumers will be able to know the country and the region their gemstones come from, as long as they have been recently mined and their size exceeds 0,18 carat.
In 2017, Tiffany & Company sold more than $500 million worth of diamond engagement rings, one of the most expensive and emotional purchases a consumer could make. This kind of business relies on a relatively young market segment, consisting of well-informed people who can be easily influenced by the growing concerns about a more sustainable world.
Alessandro Bogliolo, the new CEO at Tiffany & Co, explained that nowadays “customers are very educated, mature and demanding.”
Informed consumers are empowered citizens, and they want to be sure that the gemstones they are buying are not “blood diamonds”: they demand specific evidence that their gems were not produced using child labor, and they want to know that their purchases are not financing warfare or terrorist activity.
The traceability of diamonds is particularly challenging, because the gems change hands many times until they reach the showroom. Some jewelers are starting to tackle the issue including provenance into their marketing, and some of them are even embracing blockchain technology to provide more information about their diamonds’ origins and offer a permanent, tamper-proof digital record.
However, this is still a challenging task, because many diamond companies are still very vague about their mining and manufacturing processes. Unfortunately, it seems like for the time being there is no way to ensure that the sourcing data provided by the dealer are actually reliable.
At present, the Diamond Source Initiative by Tiffany & Co is expected to provide each customer with a certificate stating the place the gemstone comes from. In addition, a serial number will be engraved on each diamond in order to make its journey completely traceable.
By 2020, the certificates issued by the company will contain information about where the different processing stages took place. Alessandro Bogliolo hopes that, someday, the company will be able to provide information about the mining site, the name of the artisan who cut the gem, and the jeweler who mounted it as well.
However, according to Mr. Bogliolo, this efforts towards the implementation of a better traceability program is “just a sign that is meaningful to the consumer, and behind that sign is all the work that is the responsibility of the brand”. The fate of transparency and traceability is in the companies’ hands, but consumers are playing a key role in setting the priorities of a shared agenda.