Ethical sourcing is an important but complex issue, and one to which I am committed. It encompasses social, economic, environmental and moral aspects, none of which are simple.
Creating luxury goods means working with materials that are both rare and valuable but not necessarily essential for day-to-day life. For this reason, in my opinion, their extraction or use should not negatively affect any person’s day-to-day life. I have no desire to profit through the malicious exploitation of anyone or anything and avoid selling anything I might be dubious about.
Australia is rich in minerals and metals and in the case of gold, at least, produces more than the domestic market requires. While there is no way of tracing a piece of metal back to a particular mine once it has been refined, it would be safe to say that most of the gold used in Australian jewellery is Australian. Platinum and palladium come mostly from South Africa and Russia, respectively, however the industrial demands are far higher than for jewellery and a lot of the metal we use for jewellery has already been recycled – reducing its environmental impact. I purchase my metals from an Australian refiner who works to best industry standards. With greater demand it may be possible to offer 100 per cent recycled metals, but this would in turn deprive some economies of the income derived from mining.
The situation is similar with gems – although they are easier to trace back to their geographic origins. Coloured stones are mined all over the world and often pass through many hands in the process of sorting, cutting and trading before reaching my bench. The allure of jewels has caused people to behave irresponsibly in the past, and will continue to do so. Unfortunately I can’t track each and every individual stone I use from the mine to the cutter and so on, to ensure best practice along the way. Instead I rely on a small network of suppliers whose judgment I trust and who travel the world to purchase their stock. All are Australian businesses and I buy from them with a clear conscience knowing they hold values similar to mine.
I buy locally farmed South Sea pearls and tend to avoid coral unless it is specifically required, in which case I will also buy farmed material rather than cause more devastation to ocean ecosystems through drag-netting or dynamiting. The buffalo and ox horn I use in some pieces is a by-product of farmed animals, raised and (humanely) slaughtered for the meat industry.
For information on the sourcing of diamonds please see Diamonds.