The luxury buyer of today is a tough nut to crack. Not only does she have global access to products and information that informs her every purchase, she is also a distrusting consumer who expects full transparency across the value chain. The fashion industry suffers most from this trust deficit, but the jewellery industry comes in a close second.
Most of us have been led to believe that you can’t ask a jeweller for the provenance of its jewellery. It’s a trade secret, they say. The truth is, your jeweller probably doesn’t even know the answer. When a jeweller makes an order of polished diamonds from a supplier in Antwerp, Belgium, for instance, it’s usually a mixed bag of stones that are mined from a few countries. Little accounting is done at the point of mining and that makes determining the provenance of a diamond extremely difficult. But thankfully, it is not impossible.
One of the world’s top jewellery houses is turning the situation on its head. Tiffany & Co., the American brand behind the legendary robin’s-egg-blue box, has made its boldest move yet by launching the Diamond Source Initiative that promises the consumer full transparency across its supply chain. What this means is that through a unique serial number laser‑etched onto your Tiffany diamond, you can now find out—in addition to its cut, clarity, colour and carat weight—the country your diamond originated from and where the gem was cut and polished before it landed in the boutique.
Luxury consumers will one day want transparency. Because the definition of luxury is that it’s not a necessity, and when you’re buying something that’s not a necessity, isn’t it even more important to know where it came from and how the environment and people were treated along the way?— Michael Kowalski