What is interesting about ‘Tiffany & Co’ founders, is that they first registered their low-capital business as ‘stationery and fancy goods’ in New York, 1837. After the successful participation in Paris World’s fair, they became introducers of 92% purity standard for silver jewelry. The famous engagement ring was created in 1886. The main idea of the unique technology of Mr. Tiffany was to lift the stone of the band of highlight brilliant-cut into the light. It was called The Tiffany Setting.
Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young found their inspiration in simplicity and clarity of nature elements. This respect for floral images is now expressed in trying to follow ecological and ethical standards.
What is behind a diamond
Diamonds are forever sung Shirley Bassey in 1971 on the soundtrack, written by John Barry, of the James Bond movie Diamonds for Eternity. Ten years earlier, in front of the Tiffany & Co storefront on Fifth Avenue in New York, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) had starred in one of the anthology scenes for the seventh art and, incidentally, one of the best marketing campaigns ever orchestrated. Few pieces combine so much beauty and rarity. Hollywood has been exploiting the fascination of these precious stones for decades, polishing their shine, even more, multiplying the luminosity and mystery of a gem whose history remains paradoxically opaque. Or so it has almost always been until now.
What is behind a diamond? Would you be willing to open the curtain and let our consumers see what is happening in our factories? Could you speak with a clear conscience of all the steps of the production chain? These are rhetorical questions that Andy Hart, senior vice president of diamonds and jewelry at Tiffany & Co, throws into the air sitting on the seafront in Mauritius. In the morning he had done exactly that: open the facilities of the plant that Laurelton Diamonds, a subsidiary of Tiffany & Co, has on the island in a communication exercise without cheating or cardboard. ‘This is the reality’, far from the film sets.
If you were at headquarters in Antwerp, you would see a table with small plastic bags, each labeled with information from the mine of origin: Botswana, Canada, Namibia, Russia, Sierra Leone or South Africa: they have about 15 million euros of rough diamonds. Once carved and polished, its value will multiply. Globally, it is estimated that the jewelry and watch industry annually extracts around 90 million carats of rough diamonds and 1,600 tons of gold, in a business that invoices more than 258,000 million euros. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, which looks at gold and diamond acquisition practices by 13 of the industry’s top brands, Tiffany and Co leads the ranking with a ‘solid’ rating. In a world of overwhelming marketing overexposure, it is surprising that the company has not previously exhibited its firm commitment to the traceability of its diamonds.
While, in San Francisco, others announce with great propaganda boost the creation of laboratory diamonds, free of any controversy. ‘And of any compromise’, corrects Hart, who believes that the key is not to forget the mines and invent an artificial product alternative, but for the will to improve conditions and lead change from within. ‘Ethics has always guided the policy of Tiffany & Co, but the first step to understand and guarantee the origin of each of our diamonds was in 1999’. That year the company invested in a small mining company that had just discovered an open-pit mine in Canada. Tiffany & Co promised to buy all the diamonds from the farm. Laurelton Diamonds were founded in 2002. They were preparing to start the production chain that they have today, with 10 plants spread around the world.
Before, the jeweler giant outsourced part of the process to third parties. Polishing, for example, was carried out in a factory in Vietnam. The execution was excellent, but the workshop did not meet the environmental requirements that they demand. Instead of breaking the contract, they bought the facility and made improvements.