During a time when we expect companies to share the origins of everything from the cashmere in our sweaters to the packaging they’re swaddled in when they arrive at our door, shouldn’t we know exactly where our diamonds were discovered and shaped into jewels? This is a simple enough proposition. The problem is that, once unearthed, a diamond moves through a small army of hands: Dealers, stonecutters, and jewelers all have a role in getting a rock from a mine to a shop floor. It can be nearly impossible to track a stone’s origin if the seller doesn’t want you to. The solution for responsibly-minded shoppers? Look for a vertically integrated operation. And that’s exactly what Tiffany & Co. has spent the past two decades building.
Every Tiffany diamond now comes with a passport-like certificate that shares the gem’s journey from the country where it was discovered (usually Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Russia, or Canada) to the company’s network of international workshops that cut, polish, and set each stone. This is a significant achievement in an industry that has long been marred by controversies, from widespread environmental destruction as a result of mines—and human rights violations of those who work in them—to diamonds used to finance terrorism and repressive regimes. Now when they walk into a Tiffany’s in New York, Tokyo, or London, customers will see small maps in the jewelry cases that identify where the diamonds on sale were discovered. They can rest assured that inside that iconic blue gift box (now made with sustainably sourced and recycled materials) their soon-to-be heirlooms are conflict free.
A commitment to responsible sourcing and the environment is an integral part of the legendary American brand, which was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837. The company has banned the sale of coral and pledged to source gold strictly from accountable mines, and its foundation has given more than $85 million in grants to support responsible mining, land protection, and conservation through organizations like Earthworks, Pure Earth, and the Diamond Development Initiative International.
It’s not just good for the consciences of the company’s shareholders—it’s also good business. “We are seeing a more socially conscious clientele, and they care about the environment and where precious gems come from,” says Anisa Kamadoli Costa, the company’s chief sustainability officer and chairman and president of the Tiffany & Co. Foundation. The brand aims to build awareness even among those clients who hadn’t thought about ethically sourced stones before. The resulting conversations, says Kamadoli Costa, will lead to a “deeper understanding of the positive impact being made in communities in which we source our diamonds.” That’s a beautiful thing.