Ethically sourced fine jewelry sounds appealing, and Brilliant Earth offers recycled gold and “conflict-free” diamonds. If you are interested in being a responsible consumer, then the promises made by the company offer a way to feel better about what you are buying.
Is it worth the premium price?
Buying responsibly often means paying more, but it is a sacrifice many consumers are willing to make to know they are not contributing to unethical practices around the world. However, there are limits to how much more consumers can and will pay.
Brilliant Earth’s jewelry is more expensive than its competitors who source jewelry from the cheapest vendors. Overall, their prices range from 5-20% more than the competition. Whether the product is worth the increased cost will depend on how seriously you take responsibility for buying.
Reading Brilliant Earth reviews, consumers seem to be satisfied with the quality of the jewelry and happy with the large selection offered. The most commonly expressed negative thoughts were about customer service. I think it is fair for those who are spending more to expect a superior experience when buying jewelry, but some of the negative reviews seem to hold an impractical standard for customer service.
How do they source their jewelry?
Most know of the conflict surrounding the diamonds that originate in Africa. Brilliant Earth has found numerous solutions, including diamonds sourced from Canada and Russia. Brilliant Earth deals heavily with recycled and lab-made diamonds. Lab-made diamonds are the most ethically sound choice in fine jewelry.
Recycled and refined precious metals are used in the majority of the fine jewelry sold by Brilliant Earth. Precious metal mining has historically seen human rights abuses along with environmental issues, so many conscientious consumers prefer recycled precious metal for their jewelry.
Gold, silver, and platinum are refined back to their original state, so you are purchasing the same quality as that made from newly mined metals. The refining process for recycled metals is much less energy-intensive than refining for rough metals pulled from the ground making the refining process more environmentally friendly.
Brilliant Earth also offers a unique selection of vintage jewelry, restored to its original beauty. Vintage jewelry is fashionable and ethical as it requires no mining to produce. Vintage jewelry showcases the use of precious and semi-precious stones in artistic designs of bygone eras.
Does Brilliant Earth live up to its promises?
Much like organic food, there is little to stop a company from claiming ethical practices with little proof to back their claims. Brilliant Earth is a certified member of The Responsible Jewelry Council, which oversees ethical standards in the jewelry industry.
Other retailers who promote ethical practices in diamonds use the Kimberly Process to define their ethical sourcing. The Kimberly Process only requires that diamond vendors do not finance rebel causes. Brilliant Earth follows the Kimberly Process, but they take it a few steps further. The vendors they use must prove that they meet the mining practices and standards of:
- Not financing rebel movements
- Protection against human rights abuses
- Maintains safe and responsible labor practices
- Minimizes environmental impact
- Supports community development
Brilliant Earth has partnered with Everledger to use blockchain technology to track the source of every diamond. Before blockchain solutions, it was nearly impossible to trace the origin of each diamond accurately, but Everledger is changing that. A digital trail will help customers see exactly where the gems they purchase originated from and each stop they made along the way.
Emerging technology like blockchain is having an impact on age-old businesses such as jewelry, and making it easier for consumers to know exactly what they are purchasing. For potential customers who believe that they have the power to change the world through ethical buying practices, it is a huge step in the right direction.