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:

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