A couple of years ago I attended a presentation put on by Martin Rapapport about Fair Trade. He truly captivated the audience with his vision of how the jewelry industry could act in a more socially responsible manner. I remember him encouraging the attendees to visit his booth after the seminar to check out a few examples of some fair trade jewelry products so i stopped by. To be perfectly honest, I loved the idea but there really wasn’t a large selection of socially responsible jewelry products to view.
Fast forward a few years and we are starting to see a nice increase in the offerings of sustainable jewelry. Companies like Hoover and Strong and Columbia Gem House are leading the way with recycled metals and fair trade gems respectively. Designers, such as, Russel Simmons are raising awareness and pushing the jewelry industry to do more when it comes to giving back. If you haven’t heard about his Diamond Empowerment Fund you should really check it out at www.diamondempowermentfund.org. The D.E.F is a non-profit international organization with the mission to raise money to support education initiatives that develop and empower economically disadvantaged people in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. What Russell is doing goes along really nicely with overall trend in the diamond industry towards benefication. Retailers and suppliers alike are getting impassioned and sharing their enthusiasm with blogs and new product creations. There is a great article on the momentum of the green movement in the jewelry industry over on the Fair Trade Jewelry Blog by Marc Choyt. The J.R.Dunn crew commends Marc on his in depth coverage on ethically sourced jewelry. It looks like the jewelry industry is getting a little more focused on heading in the right direction going into 2009!