The Canadian diamond mine putting ethics on the map – by Åse Anderson (The Jewellery Editor – March 20, 2016)

The Diavik Diamond Mine, in remote Canada, is proving that diamond mining can be ethical and transparent.

The question of provenance is one that looms ever larger in the world of luxury jewellery. No longer is it enough for a jewel to look beautiful; customers also want to know that there are no dirty secrets lurking in its past life, before it is cut, polished and set into a piece of ethical jewellery.

A recent report by Ethical Consumer magazine pinpointed ethical jewellery as a flourishing sector of the rapidly growing consumer market, which is now worth more than £50 billion. Anecdotally, jewellers are also reporting a sharp increase in consumers wanting to know more about the origin of the jewels they are buying.

Situated 220km south of the Arctic Circle, in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories, the Diavik Diamond Mine opened in 2003 and now produces around eight million carats of diamonds every year. A joint venture between Rio Tinto, which owns 60% of the mine, and “diamond king” Harry Winston, it is committed to showing the world that diamond mining can be both ethical and transparent.

Diamond-rich areas were not discovered in Canada until the early 1990s, but the country quickly developed a worldwide reputation for its guaranteed ethical and conflict-free stones. All Canadian mines are overseen by the Canada Mining Regulations for the Northwest Territories and each stone is laser inscribed with a unique identification number to give customers peace of mind.

Last December, Rio Tinto hit the headlines when a 187.7ct rough diamond discovered at the Diavik Diamond Mine was unveiled. Named The Diavik Foxfire, it is one of the largest rough diamonds ever discovered in Canada and is likely to yield at least one very large polished stone, destined to be set into a stunning piece of diamond jewellery.

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