Right from the start EC One have been conscious about the sourcing of the materials we use. We have always believed in making decisions that can bring the most positive impact to both people and the planet. Because of this the provenance and procurement of the materials that make up our jewellery is hugely important to us.
After some consideration, and lengthy research, we believe the most responsible option for us is to use 100% recycled gold, platinum and silver wherever possible. This is because it gives us greater traceability and transparency, whilst also reducing our environmental footprint.
We have worked with our suppliers to be sure that our recycled metals are sourced from UK production houses, who are committed to minimising their environmental footprint by using pre-existing scrap gold (sometimes called post-consumer) rather than newly mined gold.
There is no doubt that we are able to make this choice because we are a small company and that recycled gold is available to us in small quantities. We aren't kidding ourselves that everyone can take these actions or that this will end gold mining, but it seems like the best option for us at present. Simply by avoiding mined metals we can help to preserve to preserve the planet whilst reducing our carbon footprint.
that 1 gram of mined gold generates 36,410 grams of CO2e, whilst the recycled gold equivalent that we source only generates 53 grams of CO2e per 1 gm. That's 686 times less carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
By contrast a single wedding ring will require the excavation of 20 tonnes of waste. Something that despite the possible sustainability of the mining company - is difficult to justify.
In 2011 the Fairtrade Foundation launched its certification for gold; making it the first independent ethical certification system for gold.
We are proud to have been the first company in the world to produce a piece of Fairtrade Jewellery. It was hand made by founder and Master Goldsmith Jos Skeates using 20g from the world's first certified mine in Peru. He created a pair of simple matching wedding bands, one of which he proudly wears every day.
The purpose of the Fairtrade certificate is that it ensures workers in these small scale gold mines earn a guaranteed minimum price for their gold. They also receive a premium to spend on improving their businesses or on community projects, such as education, clean water and healthcare. This can help them to improve their mining and business practices.
The Fairtrade Gold Standards include strict requirements on working conditions, health and safety, handling chemicals, women’s rights, child labour and protection of the environment.
If you would like a bespoke piece of jewellery made from Fairtrade gold please get in touch.
Conflict-free and semi-traceable diamonds
The hard truth is that the diamond industry is pretty opaque, and despite changes in attitudes, it lacks transparency. When we started in 1997, we became aware of conflicts such as in Sierra Leone, where diamonds were a significant and motivating factor. At the time, we made sure our diamond suppliers gave us written guarantees that the stones we purchased were from legitimate sources and hadn't funded conflict.
In 2003 The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established to prevent "conflict diamonds" from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. This process is still in use today and covers all of the diamonds we work with. It relies on self-regulation and isn't 100% perfect, but solid safeguards are in place to maintain transparency within the supply chain.
We are constantly looking for ways to trace our diamonds back to their source. To this end, we are proud to have partnered with a Canadian diamond manufacturer. They are based in Toronto and source their diamonds from Canada, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa through the De beers group. They have cutting facilities in Toronto and Vietnam and are a Carbon Neutral manufacturer. Although they are not our only supplier, they are our first call, and we will continue to push for even greater transparency. At EC One we know the country of origin of 80% of our natural mined diamonds. This means we can guarantee the conditions under which they were mined and that they are from conflict-free areas and adhere to the Kimberly Process.
The organisation that skilfully cuts and polishes these diamonds is certified as Carbon Neutral. But we want to go above and beyond this, and are working with all our suppliers so that we can be more transparent about where are diamonds are from.
We know that as a jewellery business there is more that can be done and are excited to be at the forefront of working with suppliers to bring more transparency and accountability.
Lab grown diamonds
Lab grown diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural mined diamonds. They are grown in highly controlled laboratory environments using vast amounts of energy and advanced technological processes to duplicate the conditions under which natural diamonds are formed.
They are cut and graded in the same way as natural diamonds and are certificated by independent diamond laboratories. In almost every way, they are the same as natural diamonds.
Lab Grown diamonds have been marketed as the most ethical and environmental option because there is no mining involved and they can be traced back to their source. Making it appear there is no negative impact on the environment.
However, growing a lab diamond requires vast amounts of energy – and if that energy doesn't come from renewable sources (like solar for example) the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is vast. In addition, some diamond companies are non-committal about how their lab grown diamonds have been produced.
At EC One we only want to work with suppliers that are fully transparent about their manufacturing process. We don't assume lab grown diamonds are the most ethical option because they avoid mining or that they were created using renewable energy unless it is proved. However, we are currently working on guaranteeing that our lab grown diamonds are 100% climate-neutral, and this is backed by third-party certification.
Our coloured gemstones
At EC One we take our stone sourcing seriously. We know that getting a supply of traceable stones is not easy and yet it is really important to us.
That is why we are doing our best to work with our suppliers to source better. That means not just knowing the country of origin but also investigating the working conditions and the way in which the stone was mined and cut. We are constantly looking for opportunities to buy our stones from gem dealers who are choosing to go the extra mile and who source their stones from places that encourage fair wages and safe working conditions.
We do not shy away from asking awkward and direct questions, as we recognise there is always more that can be done.