How to show responsible sourcing in coloured gemstones?


Key points

  • Ethical jewelry : colored gemstones sourcing

  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives with colored gemstones

  • What are ethical colored gemstones?



Emmanuel Piat

President of the Maison PIAT specializes in the search and cut of natural colored and non-treated gemstones. Its expertises spans three generations.


Next Date

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


With the unique character that coloured gemstones possess; many challenges arise in ensuring the sustainability of the industry. Like no other product in the world, no two-coloured gems are identical. There are no price standards, no quality guarantee, and it is not a renewable product, unlike gold, leather, or wine, respectively. There are over a hundred variety of gems, in over 50 producing countries. However, such countries are all similar in the sense that they are plagued by poverty and undernourishment, thus leading to robbery and illegal trafficking. Such a plague pushes mines to be more and more secretive of their location and product. Furthermore, many of these countries have a weak and corrupted administration and are threatened by civil war. To contextualise the value of gemstones, they represent 10% of mine production, but nearly 70% of the value. Such a valuable source of gemstones is very much prone to robbery.

                  The Maison Piat strives to push sustainable development and technical innovation and as a result promote and advertise the benefits brought by such an advancement. The Maison are 3rd generation gem cutters specialised in untreated coloured gemstones, and supply some of the greatest international jewellery brands. Their workshops are based in Paris for single stones, and Bangkok for calibrated ones.

                  The challenges that the Maison Piat want to undertake among many is the mine to market challenge, and the defence of small companies. In fact, none are able to market successful business in the world, considering that a mine cannot produce a homogenous quality to meet one demand. Consequently, there is a need for small companies to commit to a sustainable future in order to build accountability in the supply chain. Furthermore, in regard to the defence of small companies, the spider web of numerous whole-traders is the cornerstone in the supply chain. As a result, the search for ethical sourcing should not supersede the human condition, considering such a business for medium quality stones is lacking in size, whilst being a vital source of income for illiterate miners.

                  Several solutions have peaked their heads to respond to the challenge of promoting the sustainable and ethical production of gemstones, by a number of organisations.

                  Let us look at the Corporate Social Responsibility Solutions, that raise awareness to the issues for many companies, be-it only at the manufacturing level. The Responsible Jewellery Council’s code of practices; the International Confederation of Jewellery, Silverware, Diamonds, Pearls and Stones’ Blue book for Responsible Sourcing; the International Coloured Gemstone Association’s Code of Ethics; and the National Association of Jewellers’ Code of Ethics have made strides in working on a list of standards to be respected and making them consistent in the industry.

                  Furthermore, a self-assessment approach needs to be developed, which would very much be based on individual commitment. This would ensure that companies have a own code of ethics and have strict supplying criteria down to the purchase of raw materials.

                  Finally, the Maison Piat suggests that a rough auction process be created for rough and facetted gemstones that have been certified as ethically sourced. These gems would be auctioned by an entity formed by local authorities, local miners associations and private investment. The benefits for the buyer are that the purchases are ethical and local, with full traceability, and price transparency, and in full view of the mines. For the sellers, such an auction would also open the doors to a new international market, and financial supports from the auction entities to the local miners.   

                  To conclude, the best way that the industry of gem stones has been set out by the strides made by the Maison Piat. In fact, the industry can greatly improve from advancements in technology and from sustainable and ethical sourcing. To achieve this, all companies should form a self-accountability and ensure that the code of ethics from authoritative organisations are respected.