Product has been added to the basket
Item has been added to bibliography

Public Lecture: Gemstones and Jewellery - Ethical Resources?

27 - 27 June 2018
Add to my calendar
Event type:
Evening meeting, Lecture
Organised by:
2018 Year of Resources, Geological Society Events
The Geological Society, Burlington House
Event status:

The 1990s film ‘Blood Diamond’ raised the issue of using the high value and transportability of diamonds to support guerrilla activities and drug barons, leading to a crisis of confidence in the jewellery industry. 

In response, elements of the jewellery industry have introduced initiatives in an effort to ensure the traceability and transparency of diamond trading in the ‘chain of custody’ from the mine to the market including: The Kimberley process; laser marking of diamonds; and most recently, the De Beers Group GemFair programme which aims to create a secure and transparent route to market for ethically-sourced artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) diamonds. The diamond industry has been one of the first to embrace ‘blockchain’ technology – might this be the way forward in making the ‘chain of custody’ transparent across the ‘value chain’ and be diamond mining’s answer to bitcoin? Or maybe synthetic diamonds will be the way forward?

Large diamond mines associated with high technology contribute only a small proportion of the gemstones used to make jewellery. More than 80% of all gemstone mining is for coloured gemstones such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, spinel, topaz, quartz and agates. Gemstone mining is predominantly artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) with local miners often using no more than a shovel and a woven basket. It is estimated that 16 million people worldwide are employed either directly or indirectly as a result of ASM. ASM mining supports about 600,000 people in Sri Lanka alone, including miners, cutters and polishers, dealers, jewellery designers, manufacturers and craftsmen, marketers and sales people.

Mining affects local communities before, during and after mining ceases, with both positive and negative impacts. The demand for sustainable and responsible mining and sourcing of gemstones is on the increase and human rights, social, cultural, environmental and land issues are on the agenda. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is being taken more seriously and some mining companies are looking for ways to enhance regional impact and support communities and key stakeholders, for example taking a community led approach.

To explain the terms Fairtrade, Fair-trade, Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable, the lecture used examples of organisations and individuals who are pioneers in the sourcing and use of ethical gemstones including: Fair Trade Gemstones (a London-based supplier of diamonds and coloured gems), Nineteen48 (sellers of fully traceable gems from their mines in Sri Lanka and Tanzania), CRED jewellery (who established the first transparent supply chain for gold and platinum).

What might the gemstone and jewellery industry look like in 10 years’ time and what questions should you be asking?


Cally Oldershaw, Geologist, Gemmologist and Earth Science Education Consultant

Cally is an examiner for the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and was their first Lady Chair. She was the Curator of Gemstones at the Natural History Museum for 13 years, before moving to the Geological Society as Education Officer and Parliamentary Liaison Officer. 

Cally arranged more than 100 talks and several day-conferences as the Administrative Secretary for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Earth and Environmental Sciences, to ‘educate and inform’ Members of Parliament about key environmental issues including conflict diamonds and the Kimberley Process.

Currently, Cally is developing jewellery made of Cornish agates (240 million years old) locally and ethically sourced, and accredited by the Made in Cornwall Scheme. (

All past lectures can be viewed online on our Past Meeting Resources Page.

If you wish to join the mailing list, please email Patricia Petrovic

Geolsoc Contact

The Geological Society

The Geological Society
Burlington House

Tel: 020 7434 9944