The GIA Sustainability Agenda

The institute’s environmental, social and governance program aims to integrate responsible practices into its core business strategy

September 17, 2023  |  Susan Jacques, President and CEO, Gemological Institute of America (GIA)  |  SPONSORED BY: Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
Susan Jacques GIA 1280 Supplement USED 090523

One of the most important contributions GIA has made to our industry and to gem and jewelry consumers is the creation of recognized standards and a common vocabulary for evaluating and communicating the quality of diamonds.

The undefined terms used before the 4Cs and the defined color and clarity scales — remember “top Wesselton, River, Cape”? — caused confusion and doubt in the trade and among consumers. Now the 4Cs are the global language of diamonds, making transactions easier and giving consumers greater confidence in their diamond purchases.

There is similar confusion today around another important term: sustainability. For some, “sustainability” means protecting the environment while responsibly sourcing materials. For others, it means ensuring that a business can survive into the future. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 17 sustainable development goals organized around five pillars: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Taking these together for our industry, we can define “sustainability” as providing benefits to the people, communities and countries that produce gems and jewelry, while also protecting the environment and respecting the needs of future generations.

Our hope is that an industry-wide conversation about sustainability and what it means to the producing communities and countries, to the supply chain from mine to retail, and — so importantly — to consumers will yield a similarly beneficial result.

Embracing sustainability is imperative for luxury businesses. As an industry, we must be open to adapting to consumers’ focus on greater transparency, establishing sustainability practices, embracing responsible sourcing and traceability, and limiting our environmental impact. Consumers want this from us, and they will reward companies and brands that strive to meet their evolving demands.

At GIA, we are developing a robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) program to integrate sustainability policy and practices into our core business strategy, linked to our consumer protection mission.

We hope to contribute to a common understanding of “sustainability.” As with so many terms, a shared definition can reduce confusion and doubt, building stakeholder confidence and helping our industry move forward to a bright, prosperous and sustainable future.

Main image: Gemological Institute of America. (GIA)

This article is from GIA’s Spotlight on Sustainability special report. View other articles here.

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Susan Jacques GIA 1280 Supplement USED 090523 The GIA Sustainability Agenda

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