JCK Las Vegas: Consumers Want Sustainable Products

Consumers care more about environmentally friendly
and socially responsible business practices, panelists declared during a
seminar on “The Real Value of Sustainability” on June 3 at JCK Las Vegas.

“This generation that is up and coming is more
concerned about where the products they are buying come from,” noted Rebecca
Foerster, the U.S. vice president at Rio Tinto Diamonds (which sponsored the
seminar). “And they are becoming activists about it.”

Today’s consumers “want something extra,” said Fred
Meyer Jewelers’ sustainable supply chain specialist Sean Murray. “It’s not
enough for us to just provide them with a product. They want something that
aligns with their values and beliefs.”

Research revealed that 78 percent of consumers said
they cared about sustainability and ethical issues. Once the consumers were
educated about what “sustainable jewelry” meant, that jumped to 90 percent. In
the end, more than 60 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay a
premium for ethical jewelry.

Cecilia L. Gardner, president and CEO of the
Jewelers Vigilance Committee, declared that retailers have a responsibility to
insist their suppliers adhere to ethical practices. “The most powerful force
for driving these issues is sitting right here. It is not in Washington, it is
not in the Kimberley Process. If you ask the right questions, these pressures
will go upstream and things will change,” she said.

“We
all have a responsibility,” agreed Stuller vice president of diamonds and
gemstones Stanley Zale. “I am fourth generation in this industry. We need to be
stewards to make sure it is here for generations to come.”