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There are lots of things that make Durham Rose stand apart from other jewellers. The bespoke-only ethos. Our approach to design and our determination to allow customer involvement. Our customer focus. And our complete transparency in terms of cost. But there’s one other thing that’s absolutely integral to all that we do, so integral that we don’t often mention it because it is so very obviously the right thing to do: ethical sourcing.

The Durham Rose Approach to Ethical Sourcing

From the very beginning, right back when Durham Rose went by another name (Hot Pink Rings, if you’re interested!), ethical sourcing was an accepted given. When we wrote our code of conduct, ethical sourcing was one of the first things to make the list. Why? Because our entire purpose as a business is to create wonderful pieces of jewellery that matter. No one commissions a bespoke ring on a whim. Not all of the jewellery we produce is for the wedding market. But every single item is for someone special. And every single ring means something to someone. We never want to mar those sentiments with materials that might tug on the wearer’s conscience. Or on ours.

So, we source our materials from countries and businesses with ethical policies and practices. We are voluntarily audited and certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council. And we comply with all aspects of the National Association of Jewellers code of ethics. Conflict diamonds aren’t even a consideration.

But why should any of this matter to you?

Why Ethical Sourcing Matters

When you first start looking at engagement rings, there are lots of questions that you should be asking your jeweller. The ethics behind your eventual purchase may not naturally be an immediate concern. But it probably should be. For various reasons.

The first being the sentiment behind the jewellery. Your engagement ring symbolises so, so much good. Your love, your happiness, your commitment, your future. But if it’s not ethically sourced, it can also represent so, so much bad. It may have funded warfare and violence. Ecologically unsound practices may have been used in its mining.

Secondly, on the flipside, ethically sourced goods can provide the complete antithesis to conflict gems. If you choose well, you could actually be contributing to the advancement of underdeveloped communities and countries. And that’s a pretty good foundation for anyone’s engagement ring.

Finally, there’s the economic influence your purchase could have. Buyers are the power behind every market. If there ceases to be a market for unethically sourced goods, they will cease to be a thing. Your single purchase could become the turning point for an entire industry.

So, that all sounds great, but what exactly is ethical sourcing in jewellery?

What Does Ethically Sourced Mean?

For decades now, if not centuries, diamonds and other valuable gemstones have been used to finance war, repression, dictatorships and civil unrest. Those with the resources mine the gems and use the proceeds to purchase weapons. The flashpoints come, go and change, but they’re usually in the region of northern Africa. At present, the worst areas are: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic. But that could change at any point. And the more money that is raised through the sale of conflict diamonds – or blood diamonds to use the popular phrase – the worse these humanitarian disasters become.

Ethically sourced gems do not come from these areas. So, the best way to ensure that you’re not contributing to the problem is to find out where your diamonds, gems and metals have come from. Certification should be available. If it’s not, look elsewhere.

The Kimberly Process certification scheme – an international organisation set up to help tackle the problem of conflict diamonds – can help with this. But as not all governments have signed up to the scheme and the paper certificates can be tampered with, it’s not infallible. Yet. With blockchain technology advancing, that could soon be about to change. But this means that it’s still down to you to ask your supplier where they get their gems from. And it’s down to your supplier (that includes us) to ensure that they are conflict-free.

But What About the Metals?

When it comes to the ethical sourcing of metals, the concerns don’t really lie with warfare so much as with welfare. Mining brings work to millions of people. It is of significant benefit to the global economy and a vital source of income to thousands of underprivileged people. But only when their human rights are observed.

Durham Rose opted to work with the Responsible Jewellery Council to ensure that we could be confident in every aspect our precious metal supply chain, right from the mine. We could not consciously work knowing that what we were doing may be contributing to the mistreatment of others. So, we take as much care with our metals as we do with our stones.

Rings That are Beautiful Within

Our aim, at Durham Rose, has always been to produce rings that are as beautiful within as they are without. We source all of our materials – metals, stones, even tools – meticulously. We don’t keep a supply of gems inhouse, instead preferring to find the perfect gem for each customer as ideas are formed and designs are decided upon. That way, we can tell the story of every stone that goes into every ring. We’re also able to recycle stones and settings for our customers, saving money and adding sentiment where we’re asked to.

Finally, all work on every single Durham Rose ring is completed on site at our studios. We don’t outsource. No one else is involved in the process, so there are no complications or third-party ethics to consider. Your ring is created by us – and you. And that’s how we can guarantee that every piece we make will stand up to the highest moral standards.

At Durham Rose, we don’t usually make a song and dance about our ethics, because it’s just part and parcel of what we do. Our aim is to be completely transparent, so all information relating to the rings we make is always available for customer scrutiny. And if there’s anything else that you need to know about any part of our creation process, please just ask.

So. Here’s a question for you: Are you ready to start designing your own beautifully bespoke and exceptionally ethical engagement ring? We’re waiting to help.