Corporate and Social Responsibility
Ethical and Fair Trade
The corporate and social responsibilities (‘company philosophy’) in the area of Ethical and Fair Trade for the jewellery trade is wide and far reaching. Because of the nature of jewellery and the fact that gemstones and precious metals are mined from the sea and earth, are found all over the world often in third world poor nations or those with oppressive governmental regimes and the labour used to make jewellery is often in high population developing countries like China, India, Thailand and Indonesia, every jewellery company should have a strict policy that ensures ethical and fair trade all they way along the supply chain. From mine to end consumer.
The diamond industry in the last decade has been the leader developing a policy called the Kimberly Process. It ensures that diamonds are tracked through a system of warranties from the mine, to the cutting centres, to the wholesalers of loose polished stones, to the retailer and to the end consumer. The warranties made, which are enshrined in the laws of any country who signs up to the Kimberly Process, warranty that the diamonds are ‘conflict free’ and no proceeds are used to fund any acts of terrorism, war or civil atrocity. Australia is a signatory to the Kimberly Process so any diamond legally imported into Australia has the system of warranties supporting it.
The coloured stone industry is in the process of developing its own system through the International Coloured Gemstone Association (ICA) and many companies already offer the system. The systems aim to ensure sustainability and reliability of supply. In the same way ‘overfishing’ of a sea can destroy the local industry, ‘overmining’ of an area can destroy the environment and deteriorates employment through an oversupply and drop in value. Holdsworth Bros. actively seeks out those companies that practice ethical and fair trade and chooses them as preferred suppliers for our gemstones. We also do our best to ensure that the employment conditions of miners and cutters are of a sufficient standard through personal visits to factories and/or assertions from management.
At a local level Holdsworth Bros. provides support to people, places and things. These are a few of the many things we do.
- Our annual jewellery catalogues are 100% carbon offset.
- We contribute to natural disaster funds (e.g. Victorian bushfires).
- We support Australian manufacturing through employment of jewellers.
- We support Australian industry through utilizing local jewellery industry companies.
- Our staff are employed at above award wage rates and conditions.
- We support local charity, school, kindergarten and community through donations.
Accurate Pricing, Disclosure and Valuing.
Jewellery, diamond and gemstones are intrinsically valuable. All are available in different qualities and the different qualities can make huge differences to price. To make matters even more confusing gemstones and diamonds can be artificially enhanced or treated to improve their appearance. So much so that cheap gem material can have its apparent value increased by thousands of times. While Holdsworth Bros. has no fundamental problem with treating gem materials or selling man made (synthetic) gem materials, it should be disclosed in full so the consumer can make an educated choice. Full disclosure means educating the consumer about the type of treatment, how stable it is, what to do to look after the treated gemstone and what not to do to ensure the treatment doesn’t fail or reverse.
Holdsworth Bros. does make a few basic choices to give consumers confidence when they walk in the door of any of their stores. With the exception of some of our silver jewellery, no item of jewellery instore contains any synthetic or man made gemstones. There are only a small handful of treatments we will accept in our gemstones and these treatments have been trade accepted for decades, in fact the treatments are so common that 99% of all gemstones in any jewellery store, anywhere in the world, go through the process. The treatments we will accept are as follows;
- Gemstones are faceted by skilled cutters – they do not come out of the ground in the shapes found in jewellery.
- Blue topaz are routinely irradiated to induce the blue colour.
- Emeralds are ‘oiled’. After cutting they are placed in cedarwood oil to improve clarity by filling in surface reaching inclusions.
- Almost all transparent gemstones used in jewellery, except diamond and emerald are heat treated. That is the rough material is heated to improve the clarity of a gemstone, improve the colour of a gemstone or actually change the colour of a gemstone. For example, citrine was amethyst before it was heated to about 400oC for an hour or so.
Treatments we will not accept, very commonly found in competing jewellery stores.
- Synthetic, man-made, created or laboratory created gemstones.
- Clarity enhanced diamonds (laser drilled and/or fracture filled)
- Colour enhanced diamonds (high pressure/high temperature or radiation treating)
- Diffusion coated gemstones (light coloured gemstones covered in a thin coloured coating)
- Lattice diffused gemstones (gemstones with a foreign source of chemicals artificially diffused through the gemstone. Ruby and sapphire are commonly altered in colour via beryllium diffusion)
- Glass, epoxy, resin or flux treated gemstones (gemstones which are of appaling quality are boiled in a soup of glass and the fissures and cracks are filled up improving the apparent clarity. Sometimes coloured soups are used to change or improve the colour. Ruby is very commonly treated by this method and sells for $5/ct with the appearance of ruby worth $5000/ct)
- Any other treatment.
The reasons why we do not accept these treatments are twofold. Firstly many of them are not permanent and through normal wear, tear, cleaning and jewellery maintenance can come undone leaving the gemstone effectively destroyed. Secondly we believe that the ‘blackballed’ treatments cause a fundamental change in the nature of the gemstone. It ceases to become a wonder of nature and instead becomes a mad scientists experiment. It may be a ‘natural’ gemstone in that it originally was created by nature and recovered from the earth, but it becomes so superficial and un-natural through the complex chemical and physical augmentation that in our eyes it is no longer ‘natural’.
Treating gemstones is designed to do one thing, improve bang for buck. The treated gemstones are always less valuable than untreated gemstones with the same visual appearance. When confronted with one gemstone cheaper than another of apparent equal quality, especially with a large difference in price, almost certainly the reason will be due to treatments or genesis.
Holdsworth Bros. always undertakes to price fairly, to disclose and to protect our customer. We always price jewellery at a level we think will tempt a potential customer to buy, and never at a level which we know will allow us to offer a phoney ‘discount’ later. We will always provide quality at a fair price and do our upmost ensure that a fair price is paid on all inputs into the jewellery item supply chain so everyone and the environment involved is looked after. The valuations we provide on our jewellery are always provided at the ticketed price or the price actually paid (for custom items). They all comply with the standards set by the National Council of Jewellery Valuers (NCJV).