Brilliant Earth Review – What are ethically-sourced diamonds?

Diamonds pass through many hands before they reach the consumer. [...]

Diamonds pass through many hands before they reach the consumer. However, the part of the diamond sourcing process that is most concerning to buyers is the way diamonds are mined. This is why conscientious shoppers invest in ethically-sourced diamonds.

What are Ethically-Sourced Diamonds?

The definition of an ethically-sourced diamond is one that has been mined according to fair humanitarian practices. In other words, the mine doesn’t engage in child labor, there is no forced labor, miners get paid fair wages, and they have a safe working environment. Additionally, diamond sales can’t fund civil wars.

Now that we’ve defined ethically-sourced diamonds, let’s look at a provider of these types of diamonds, Brilliant Earth.

Who is Brilliant Earth?

Brilliant Earth is a provider of ethically-sourced diamond jewelry, lab-grown diamond jewelry, and gemstone jewelry. The company was founded by Beth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg in 2005 with the mission to provide exceptionally beautiful jewelry.

Brilliant Earth states that they are “more than just another fine jewelry company.” They justify this statement by explaining that their goal was to be a company that reinvented the way jewelry was sourced, made, and sold. 

“Beyond Conflict-Free” is the term Brilliant Earth uses to describe the sourcing of their diamonds. In this Brilliant Earth Review, we will look closely at what they mean by “Beyond Conflict-Free” to determine whether this term has the same meaning as ethically-sourced diamonds.

What Does “Beyond Conflict-Free” Mean?

In Brilliant Earth parlance, “Beyond Conflict-Free” refers to diamonds whose sourcing meets the following criteria:

  • The diamonds have not been used to finance rebel movements.
  • The mine where the diamonds originate from protects its workers from human rights abuses. Additionally, the mine maintains safe and responsible labor practices.
  • The source mine works to minimize environmental degradation during the mining process and supports community development.

Brilliant Earth believes that jewelers who offer only “conflict-free” diamonds are restricting themselves to the Kimberley Process definition of conflict-free diamonds, which in their view does not require enough of its suppliers to be deemed ethical. The Kimberley Process only requires that diamonds not have been used to finance rebel movements, whereas Brilliant Earth requires that their suppliers adhere to a more robust set of criteria. Furthermore, let’s consider that the definition of ethical is refraining from engaging in activities that harm people or the environment. It’s safe to conclude that Brilliant Earth’s strictures make them more of a supplier of ethically sourced jewelry than companies that only adhere to the Kimberley Process. Therefore, based on their “Beyond Conflict-Free” mandate, Brilliant Earth can be deemed a provider of ethically-sourced jewelry. However, we can’t help but ask how Brilliant Earth guarantees that their diamond suppliers meet their criteria?

How Does Brilliant Earth Certify that Their Diamonds are Ethical?

We’ve established that Brilliant Earth wants their diamonds to come from sources that adhere to a robust set of ethical criteria. However, we can’t just take their word for it. We need to know how Brilliant Earth can guarantee that their diamonds really do come from ethical sources. 

According to their website, Brilliant Earth requires that their suppliers be able to track and segregate the diamonds they provide by origin. In this way, Brilliant Earth can ensure that the diamonds come only from the specific mine operators who follow their “Beyond Conflict-Free” criteria. This means that they should provide the exact route a diamond traveled from the moment it was sourced to the second it came into Brilliant Earth’s possession.

In their commitment to only selling diamonds from suppliers that conform to the “Beyond Conflict-Free” criteria, Brilliant Earth only deals with specific mines in Canada, Russia, Botswana, Nambia, and South Africa.

Additionally, for some cases, they utilize the GIA Diamond Origin Report to trace diamonds from their source. The GIA gathers and examines the physical measurements, imaging of the diamond as a rough crystal, and spectroscopic data. They then assign a unique identification number to the rough diamond, which can be used to scientifically match a polished diamond to the rough cut it came from.

Summary

Brilliant Earth is a provider of ethically-sourced diamonds. Ethically-sourced diamonds are mined in a way that ensures that both people and the environment come to no harm. However, Brilliant Earth wants their diamonds to conform to more than just the standard definition of ethical diamonds. They have a specific set of criteria, which they call “Beyond Conflict-Free.” This criterion enhances the standard definition of an ethically-sourced diamond to ensure that, in addition to not harming people and the environment, the mines also make concerted efforts to develop the community. Brilliant Earth guarantees that their diamonds are actually ethically-sourced by requiring that their suppliers track and segregate their diamonds by origin. In this way, they can trace the exact route every diamond took to get to them. 

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