But competition, it transpires, is not limited only to the companies producing, manufacturing and trading diamonds, but also to the organizations verifying responsible supply chains, as well as the very standards that they are using.
Since it was founded in 2005, the leading standards-setting organization in the industry has been the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC). Its Code of Practices, against which companies in the supply chain can be certified, covers all the primary minerals and metals used in the manufacture of jewelry, including gold, silver and the platinum group metals, as well as diamonds and colored gemstones.
RJC certification process is independently audited and accredited by ISEAL, which is an international association dedicated to the development of credible sustainability standards in a variety of different sectors. The organization today has more than 1,450 member companies in 71 countries, spanning the supply chain from mine to retail.
But RJC is no longer the only game in town. Making its presence felt in the diamond and jewelry business is a California-based organization called SCS Global Services, which is promoting what it refers to as SCS-007 Jewelry Sustainability Standard – Sustainability Rated Diamonds.
NEWCOMER EXTENDS VERIFICATION TO LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS
While it is a newcomer to the jewelry business, SCS has been involved in the field of sustainability standards and third-party certification for 37 years, working in the natural resources, built environment, food and agriculture, consumer products and climate sectors.
It’s new SCS standard initially raised eyebrows in the industry because it can be applied to both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds, unlike RJC’s Code of Practices, which applied only to natural stones.
According to the organization, the SCS-007 Jewelry Sustainability Standard includes stringent environmental, social and governance (ESG) achievement; climate neutrality; sustainable production practices with net zero impact; comprehensive origin traceability; and sustainability investments that support vulnerable communities.
Unsurprisingly, the most well known companies to have signed up initially with SCS are a group of firms that are heavily invested, both as manufacturers and traders, in the laboratory-grown diamond business.
Since it was founded in 2005, the leading standards-setting organization in the industry has been the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC). Its Code of Practices covers all the primary natural minerals and metals used in the manufacture of jewelry.
In the case of their products, the SCS-007 standard is said to ensure that they are environmentally friendly, and certifies that they were cut and polished or set into jewelry by employees working in safe and humane facilities, who received fair wages for their labor.
The new SCS SCS-007 Jewelry Sustainability Standard can be applied to both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds. According to the organization, SCS it provided assurance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) achievement; climate neutrality; sustainable production practices with net zero impact; comprehensive origin traceability; and sustainability investments that support vulnerable communities.
SCIENTIFIC PROCESS SAID TO UNDERPIN COMPLIANCE
Its testing protocols, SCS claims, are capable of tracking diamonds back to a specific mine shaft or piece of laboratory equipment, with sufficient checks and balances across the entire chain of custody from source to market. They are supported by surveillance auditing and sampling, which the organization says achieve 99.9 percent origin assurance.
To achieve this, SCS has been working with a company called Source Certain International (SCI), based in Western Australia. It claims to have developed a provenance verification and chemical profiling process called TW Trace, which it says scientifically addresses verification of a variety of products in the supply chain, including natural diamonds.
Speaking to Forbes magazine, SCI explained how the TSW Trace process works. A physical sample of a product in analyzed to determine its unique combination of chemicals, molecules, elements and isotopes that were imprinted on it through its geographical origin. These are matched to analyses of trade elements founds in a diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe, stored in a secure Provenance Database.
Speaking to Forbes, the CSI chief scientists said that “there will be a geochemistry associated with [a] diamond pipe,” and a “single pipe, that single event,” will contain a distinct chemical signature, which can then be associated with specific diamonds.
Once all of its systems are in place, SCS says, it will be able to send diamonds from any particular supply chain to SCI in Australia, which will be able to confirm that their origin is from where participants in the supply chain claim to be source.
This the organization says, will provide a scientific underpinning to a process that to date has relied on a paper trail to ensure supply chain integrity.
“These diamonds are what the market needs right now, and they will soon move on to the cutting and polishing stage, which we believe will somewhat contribute to [balancing] the market,” Agureev said.