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Ethical Diamonds and Choice

As you may know, diamonds are mined throughout the world and often cause conflict and destruction ecologically. More and more retailers are looking for “conflict free” or ethically mined diamonds but are they willing to pay more? Michelle Graff at 10x gives us the lowdown at a recent conference:

Last Wednesday, I attended a panel discussion on “ethical” diamonds organized by the Women’s Jewelry Association and held here in New York.

Inevitably, the discussion, moderated by jewelry industry writer and editor Peggy Jo Donahue, came around to the question of money: How much are people willing to pay for a diamond that lays claims to being responsibly mined?

It’s not unlike the questions Americans face in a myriad of other shopping situations.

You’re at the grocery store and the free-range, organic eggs, presumably produced by chickens with a (somewhat) better life than their factory-farmed counterparts, are lined up alongside regular, non-organic options. The organic eggs are double or even triple the price of the non-organic variety. Are you willing to pay more? Which will you choose?

Two of the panelists, Rebecca Foerster, the U.S. vice president of Rio Tinto Diamonds, and Forevermark U.S. Inc. President Charles Stanley, said their companies charge a premium for their products because they believe there are people who are willing to pay for the assurance of owning an ethically sourced diamond.

Stanley noted that there will come a “tipping point” when the origin of products will become an issue across the board.

But Andrea Hansen, CEO of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, said from their viewpoint, the consumer hasn’t reached that point yet. Rather than attach a premium to their ethically sourced merchandise, the company takes a lower margin. “I don’t see on the retail level yet that the consumer is willing to pay that much more for the product,” she said.

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At Joseph Schubach Jewelers, we pride ourselves in using eco-friendly materials. Read more about our practices.