Welcome to the Conscience Issue

Philanthropy has long played a role in jewelry, but now it—along with efforts to make businesses greener and more ethical—may be more important than ever before. That’s because with consumers’ new mindset of spending less, companies that offer to benefit the charities and causes that consumers care about position themselves for future gains and new customers. Additionally, jewelers who volunteer—by mentoring at-risk kids, cleaning up neighborhood parks, visiting patients in nursing homes, and more—reap untold personal benefits while groups gain from individuals’ expertise, enthusiasm, and muscle.

Need more proof? Consider the results of the 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey, fielded online by Opinion Research Corp., which revealed that 34 percent of Americans are more likely to buy environmentally friendly products. Additional findings include:

  • 35 percent of Americans had greater interest in the environment in 2009 than in 2008.

  • 35 percent of Americans have higher expectations for companies to make and sell environmentally responsible products and services during the economic downturn.

  • 70 percent of Americans indicate they are paying attention to what companies are doing with regard to the environment today, even if they cannot buy until the future.

For jewelers, this means promoting all of your charitable, green, ethical, and fair trade efforts to consumers. In “Jewelers & Fair Trade,” find out why and how some of your peers are selling more jewelry and gemstones acquired by conscionable means. In “Jewelers Give Back,” learn about the lesser-known charities that benefit from jewelers’ benevolence, and in “Hometown Heroes: Jewelers Who Volunteer” retailers who spend their time (and money) on causes close to them open up about their altruistic behind-the-scenes efforts. “Reach Out to Socially Conscious Consumers” explains how to overcome negative publicity. May these stories inspire you to become better jewelers, businessmen, and people, and to start your own outreach campaigns in 2010.