Diamonds are still best friends to the fashion elite, especially when those diamonds are ethically and responsibly sourced, like those from Tiffany & Co. Tiffany's ensures that its sparklers are not only gorgeous but also that they're also made by artisans who are paid fair wages and have healthy working conditions. They start their jewelry-making process with rough diamonds and metals from known miners and have publicly stated their commitment to protecting the environments surrounding the mines they source from.
But what exactly does that look like? Tiffany & Co. recently pulled the curtain back on its diamond-making process, giving interior designer and beloved style blogger Aimee Song (Song of Style) and her boyfriend Jacopo Moschin a behind-the-scenes look. The duo went to Antwerp, Belgium, and Mauritius in East Africa to experience the journey of a Tiffany diamond. They traced several steps of the process from mapping to polishing and got to talk (and play a little ping pong) with the talented workers.
We caught up with Song after her trip to chat about her experience and what she's learned about sustainable diamond-making.
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What did you know about diamond-making before traveling to Antwerp and Mauritius?
Before the trip, I didn’t know much about the process of diamond making, especially how they're sourced, selected, cut, and polished—so I wasn’t sure what to expect!
What are some of the differences between the facilities and production at Antwerp versus Mauritius?
Antwerp is Tiffany’s diamond HQ where they sort, mark, and laser-saw rough diamonds. Mauritius is where the stone is truly transformed, as Tiffany artisans cut and polish diamonds destined for Tiffany engagement rings.
Can you walk me through what you’ve learned?
We learned that after being selectively sourced from responsible mines (Tiffany rejects 99.96 percent of the world’s gem-grade diamonds), a Tiffany diamond continues its journey to Antwerp, which is where Tiffany prepares the stone and maps out its unique geometric plan. Then, in Mauritius, Tiffany & Co. has its own workshop of skilled artisans experienced in polishing. Other jewelers only buy pre-polished stones, and many diamond-polishing factories have social and environmental issues. By starting with rough [diamonds] and doing the work themselves, Tiffany eliminates that risk.
Why is that important to you to know the stones are sourced ethically?
Just like how we want to know where and how our food is grown, we should care about where our jewelry comes from, especially when celebrating life's significant moments.
How has this experience changed the way you look at diamonds now that you’re back home?
It’s reassuring to know that the diamonds I wear from Tiffany & Co. are sourced and crafted ethically. I feel good knowing that the people who made the jewelry I wear were paid a living wage and that they’re all skilled workers who take pride in what they do.
Wat did you learn from the workers in Antwerp and Mauritius?
The people I spoke to seem to really enjoy their career. Some are even third-generation diamond cutters, who learned the trade from their parents and grandparents. To know that they like working for the company made me happy. And my boyfriend Jacopo got to play ping pong with one of the workers at the facility.
Are there any Tiffany’s diamond-centric items on your holiday wishlist this year?
I currently have an Atlas diamond ring as well as a T wire ring that I wear everyday because they’re so versatile. I’d love to add a T smile pendant in rose gold or Tiffany South Sea pearl pendant with a diamond!
Scroll through below to see some snapshots of the Tiffany diamond-making process first-hand.
1. Learning About PolishingHere, Song listens intently as she's taught about the process of diamond polishing.
2. Checking for Flaws
At the polishing workshop in Mauritius, a Tiffany artisan checks for any flaws.
3. Mapping a Plan
Song watched a worker map out the unique geometric plan for a diamond.
This artisan is about to polish a Tiffany diamond by hand.