Ethical Engagement Rings
We know that creating an ethical engagement ring is important to you - and it’s important to us, to be a part of a positive, evolving and ethical jewellery industry. Here's what we're doing, to make your diamond ring, one to be proud of. Read about our ethical approach to creating engagement rings and sourcing ethical diamonds.
Ethically made engagement rings & fine jewellery
It is our responsibility to craft our engagement rings with ethical materials, from trusted sources. Like many of the world’s industries, the diamond and precious metal industry is not without fault - so ensuring we do the utmost to source ethically-produced materials whilst supporting mining-dependent local economies and contributing to further, positive change is vital.
From ethical diamond sourcing to offering lab grown engagement rings, and avoiding overseas factory mass-production to contribute to a more ethical industry: here’s what we’re doing to help grow a positive industry and ensure you receive an ethical ring you can be proud of.
Ethical diamond ring inspiration
Get inspired by our custom-made engagement rings, individually designed with love and crafted by us at our Hatton Garden jewellers.
3.2ct Bespoke Radiant Cut with Hidden Halo
Sourcing Ethical Diamonds
Learn more about the important work of the UN's Kimberley Process in shaping a global network of ethical diamond trade, industry advancements in tracing a diamond's ethical origins, and how choosing a lab diamond can ensure an entirely ethical ring.
What does ethical diamond mean?
Up until relatively recent initiatives, the diamond mining industry was left largely unregulated. Diamond mining in itself is not an unethical notion - it can, and does in most instances help to encourage local development, provide jobs, infrastructure, education and a sustainable economy. Areas with deposits of diamonds, gemstones and other natural resources are referred to as ‘resource rich’, meaning they offer a great opportunity for a bustling economy.
When the control of these resources gets into the wrong hands, things can take a turn for the worse, and instead of uplifting the local socio-economic development, it can hinder it - it’s the ‘paradox of plenty’, or ‘the resource curse’. Conflicts can arise over the ownership and control of the resources, and if insurgencies gain control of the diamond mines, they may use profits to fund illegitimate wars and violence, to further a centralised profit that is not fairly distributed amongst the community. It is a terrifying and dreadful reality that was not adequately discussed or prevented by global initiatives until the 2000s - and thankfully, the world is waking up to these atrocities and actively diminishing the trade of unethical diamonds. But, there is still some way to go.
Diamonds mined and traded under the circumstances of war and violence are known as ‘blood diamonds’, ‘conflict diamonds’ or ‘unethical diamonds’. The UN defines blood diamonds as "diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognised governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
How does the Kimberley Process prevent unethical diamond trade?
The Kimberley Process was implemented by the UN in 2003 to put an end to the trade of blood diamonds by setting out requirements for controlling the production and trade of rough diamonds with an international certification scheme. The Kimberley Process mandates that participating countries, such as the UK, USA, Canada, India, UAE and Australia, to name a few, must comply with a strict set of rules to avoid importation of unethical diamonds.
Today, the 81 participating countries of the Kimberley Process actively prevent 99.8% of the worldwide trade of conflict diamonds, meaning a certified diamond bought in the UK is almost certainly conflict-free.
The Kimberley Process is effective in contributing to the demise of the conflict diamond trade. We wholeheartedly supported the overwhelming contribution the Kimberley Process has made to creating a much more ethical diamond trade, but it is not a fix-all answer. The UN and other governing bodies must strengthen and uphold their commitments to completely end the trade of unethical diamonds. In the meantime, ethical jewellers like Queensmith must be extremely careful with whom they work when sourcing diamonds - at Queensmith, we do not buy diamonds from unverified sources, and instead have built relationships with the most reputable and trusted suppliers. Many jewellers, like us, are sometimes approached by sellers to buy secondhand jewellery - part of the reason we refuse to buy secondhand jewellery or diamonds is that we cannot verify they have ethical origins. Doing our utmost to know the provenance of the diamonds we sell and making all of our pieces in-house is important to provide peace of mind, for you, and for us.
The GIA Diamond Origin Report
The GIA, the world’s most renowned, non-profit diamond grading organisation, has recently expanded their services to include diamond origin reports. This is not available for all GIA diamonds, as it requires the diamond to have undergone GIA Rough Analysis Service before polishing. That said, this is a great advancement in the diamond industry, paving the way for greater traceability and transparency - and will likely become an increasingly prevalent addition to certified diamonds on the market.
The GIA requires the rough diamond to be submitted with their Kimberley Process certificate (stating the country of origin) and an invoice from the mining company (including the country of origin). There are strict rules here: the diamond must be packaged and sealed with appropriate paperwork, and only opened in the presence of a GIA representative, to avoid the risk of the stones from different sources mixing. Once polished, data from the diamond will be matched to that of its rough state, allowing the polished diamond’s country of origin to be verified. Along with the typical information the GIA would verify, like the cut, colour, clarity and carat weight of the stone, a GIA Diamond Origin Report will confirm the diamond’s geographic origin.
The GIA Diamond Origin Report is a huge leap forward in increasing ethical diamond traceability, and means diamonds from conflicted or problematic countries of origin can be avoided.
Connecting miners, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, the Origin Report ensures expertly graded natural diamonds whose countries of origin have been scientifically confirmed.
Ethical lab grown diamonds
A lab grown diamond is a guaranteed ethical option for your engagement ring. Lab diamonds are created in a laboratory setting that mimics the natural process of diamond creation, which ordinarily occurs within the Earth’s mantle over billions of years. Considered 100% real diamonds and identical to natural diamonds in every way, some engagement ring buyers see the option of a lab diamond as an obvious choice - not to mention, they are typically 60% to 80% less expensive thanks to the efficiency of their production.
More and more lab diamonds are being created using solar energy, which is an exciting advancement in the jewellery industry.
Lab diamonds are relatively new to the diamond market, and while they certainly have their ethical benefits, there is concern that reduced demand for natural diamonds could see ethical diamond-mining communities suffer.
Explore the pros and cons of buying a lab grown diamond to create your own, informed decision.
Lab diamonds appear identical to natural diamonds, and even experts can't tell them apart - they're 100% real diamonds. Thanks to the efficiency of their production, lab diamonds cost considerably less.
Tracing Our Ethical Diamond & Metal Supply Chain
From our local, specialist suppliers in Hatton Garden to the journey of a mined diamond, learn about our supply chain and how we source the precious materials we work with.
Our local supply chain
Locating our workshops and showrooms at the heart of Hatton Garden was no random decision: Hatton Garden is the most prominent hub of the UK’s jewellery industry, an internationally-regarded jewellery district, and home to some of the world’s best diamond and metal suppliers, goldsmiths and jewellery experts. This allows us to keep as much of our supply chain as local as possible, and work with the most trusted, reputable and transparent suppliers.
The diamonds we use are typically supplied by local Hatton Garden suppliers, unless a client specifies a niche diamond that requires sourcing from further afield. We have great working relationships with these local suppliers, who assist us in delivering the best quality diamonds at the best prices. Likewise, our reliable precious metal suppliers are located in Hatton Garden.
While it’s a little hard to measure, it’s thought that Queensmith now has the largest in-house jewellery workshop space in London - because we like to keep as much in-house as we can. Not only does keeping production in-house control the costs relayed to our clients, but it also allows us to recruit the most meticulous, talented goldsmiths to deliver our high quality standards. When you visit our stores, you’ll see our goldsmiths at work and can meet the very people behind the creation of your ring. We don’t rely on international factories or mass production, and we can ensure our crafters are paid fully and fairly for the outstanding work they do. All the while, we limit the miles each ring requires to be made - it’s a super efficient, transparent and reliable way to create high quality, custom jewellery.
During the creation of a Queensmith ring, the only step that is outreached is casting - we turn to the talented, specialist team located just a stone’s throw away from our own workshops. As a process, casting requires a serious amount of cutting edge equipment and specialist skills. While it’s not feasible for us to cast in-house, it’s vital we collaborate with a company that shares our values for top quality. The proximity of our trusted casters allows us a level of transparency and accountability that working with an overseas or distant supplier would not, and we know we can count on their casting quality time and time again.
Our global suppliers & a diamond’s journey
Of course, diamonds and precious metals aren’t found naturally in Hatton Garden - they’re found in natural deposits around the world.
So where do our diamonds come from? Although a rare commodity, diamonds can be found in a range of geographical locations - from Botswana to Namibia, Australia to South Africa, amongst others. We don’t source diamonds directly from the mine, because there are a few stages a diamond must go through before it can enter the market.
First, an ethical diamond will be awarded its Kimberley Process certificate (KP) when mined in a conflict-free zone. Stones without a KP will be refused entry to participating countries, and it is an important step for organisations like the GIA if the stone is to undergo an Origin Report. Not all ethical diamonds have Origin Reports, which evaluates the rough diamond before polishing, and it is a very new but exciting service offered by the GIA that aims to increase the traceability of ethical diamonds.
Next, the rough diamond will be auctioned and eventually reach a polishing company, with 92% of diamonds cut and polished in Surat, India, and in other diamond cutting hubs like Tel Aviv in Israel, and Antwerp in Belgium. Reputable polishers will not accept a diamond without a KP certificate, which helps to ensure unethical diamonds do not enter the supply chain.
Following polishing, a diamond could end up with a diamond supplier, ready to sell to jewellers - but this would miss one step we at Queensmith deem crucial: certification. Some jewellers buy in uncertified diamonds so they can certify them themselves, but this not only leaves huge room for error but creates an opportunity to over-grade the diamonds to inflate prices. Uncertified diamonds, or diamonds certified in-house by jewellers, run a huge risk of not living up to the grades the buyer pays for. Because of this, we not only use certified diamonds, we use diamonds certified by the most reputable grading laboratories. Every GIA diamond undergoes two rounds of grading to ensure accuracy, and as a nonprofit, the GIA has nothing to gain from over-grading a stone.
At the point of certification, a diamond supplier will technically own the diamond. It is then up to this supplier to sell to jewellers, like Queensmith. Typically, we’d contact the diamond suppliers (of which we work with a trusted, select few) to let them know what we’re after: certain shapes, carat sizes and grades, and after our gemmologists view the diamond, will confirm whether we’d like to work with the diamond or not. We carefully select our suppliers, working only with reputable and transparent, respected suppliers. We’re often asked if we will buy second hand jewellery, or loose diamonds that someone happens to have - the answer is always no. This is because we can’t guarantee the origins of these diamonds, and even if they come with certification, we don’t know how this diamond has ended up where it is. It’s important to us that we trade with official, knowledgeable and trustworthy diamond suppliers, so we always know what we’re selling to our clients.
Queensmith's ban on Russian diamonds
While for a long time Russia was considered an ethical source of diamonds, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 has caused the jewellery industry to reconsider its position as an ethical producer. Queensmith took the decision in early March 2022 for a self-imposed ban on buying and selling any known Russian diamonds, ceasing the sale and marketing of diamonds knowingly mined, distributed and marked by the Russian Federation-backed conglomerate Alrosa.
The Russian Federation have 33% ownership of Alrosa, with mines in Western Yakutia and Arkhangelsk. Inevitably, profits made through the sales of rough diamonds mined by Alrosa would indirectly fund Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine. By this definition, a diamond originating from Russia can now be considered a blood diamond - so Queensmith maintains a strict policy on refusing to work with any diamond known to have Russian origins.
Read Queensmith's full statement addressing the immediate ban on Russian diamonds.
Fair Trade & Recycled Metals
Discover the possibility to create your ring with Fair Trade metal, what that means, and why the majority of the metal we use has been carefully recycled & refined.
Fair Trade ring metal
At Queensmith, any ring can be crafted using Fair Trade gold metal, cast at a trusted, local company using gold sourced from certified, Fair Trade mines. Unfortunately, platinum rings and rose gold rings cannot be crafted with metal certified as Fair Trade, but our clients have the option to choose from Fair Trade yellow gold or white gold. The option of Fair Trade metal does not mean to say that non-Fair Trade metal is necessarily unethical, but in the same way that some prefer to invest in a lab grown diamond, some clients like to opt for an option that certifies the ethical origins of their metal. And just like diamonds, mining can, and typically does, offer a stable growth of local economies, jobs, infrastructure, education and social development. Typically, Fair Trade gold costs around 20% more than other metals, as it faces a great process of scrutiny to certify its ethical origins.
Recycled ring metal
The majority of our local metal suppliers trade in reclaimed and recycled metal, meaning almost all of our rings are created with recycled metal. The recycled metal we source from our local suppliers has been refined over and over to produce the purest metal, suitable for creating a ring that lasts a lifetime and beyond. We’re sometimes asked by clients if we can reuse the metal of heirloom and antique rings - which unfortunately, we cannot. While we can usually reset existing diamonds and gemstones, we cannot guarantee the purity of the metal from vintage and heirloom rings, which if used can cause problems while crafting and after, including breakage and weakness. To reach a pure enough form, recycled metal must be expertly refined - which is why we’ve sought out the most reputable and trusted experts to supply our metal. We’ve worked with the same suppliers for a number of years, and the quality of each ring we produce is in part testament to the quality of the precious metal they supply.
Meet your personal jewellery consultant
Let our expert team of professional gemmologists, goldsmiths and designers guide you through the process of creating a truly personal piece of jewellery.