Ethics and traceability are paramount for millennials shopping for precious stones – and that is changing the jewellery business for the better.
Millennial consumers are asking the right questions when it comes to buying gemstones ethically. Baby-boomers, in contrast, have seldom asked the same questions about the provenance of coloured gems or diamonds.
Not only that, but coloured gemstones are also in vogue for millennials, favoured by fashionable royals and celebrities, fuelling a boom for sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other coloured gems in recent years.
Kylie Jenner was photographed rocking some giant emeralds around her neck at the Kardashians’ annual Christmas eve party. Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson meanwhile celebrated her engagement in 2019, showing off her an elegant 11-carat elongated brown diamond ring.
Before that, Kate Middleton wore Kashmir sapphire engagement ring, formerly Princess Diana’s, when she tied the knot in 2010, and Kim Kardashian has bought many of the jewels owned by the late Elizabeth Taylor star of Hollywood classic Cleopatra.
Entrepreneur Phil Spencer, founder of bespoke coloured gemstone jewels specialist London DE, recently returned from Colombia’s Chivor mine, famous for emeralds of the highest colour and quality.
Colombian emeralds can pass through a dozen different owners by the time they reach a London jeweller. But by going straight to the point of origin, Spencer is keen to cut out the middlemen.
There are many benefits to this, but traceability is the big one for millennial buyers. Ethical customers want to know that their gem is not the product of exploitation, child labour, a conflict stone, or the cause of avoidable environmental impact.
It’s much clearer a stone comes from an ethical source if its provenance can be simply traced back to the moment it was plucked from the ground. Colombian emeralds are higher quality but also much easier to trace than East African stones.
Millennials tend to have a strict budget. But transparency doesn’t have to be expensive. On the contrary, it helps keep costs down. Fewer middlemen also mean fewer people taking their cut along the way from the mine to the customer.
Founded in 2013 in the heart of London’s Hatton Garden, the focus of London DE is on bespoke jewellery. The crowd-funded start-up business offers a rare combination to coloured gem shoppers: ethical buying through traceability; customised jewellery to suit the individual; and a fair price to the customer.