An insider reveals what you didn’t know about Tiffany & Co. diamonds
The leader in diamond traceability
Tiffany & Co. diamonds need no introduction, just like how the signature Tiffany blue box needs no explanation. Tiffany & Co.'s story began in 1848 and since the very beginning, the brand has been handcrafting some of the world's most beautiful diamonds.
Founder Charles Lewis Tiffany himself was fondly known as "The King of Diamonds". Perhaps one of his most famous stories was when he purchased one of the world's largest and most celebrated Fancy Yellow diamonds. It was a 287.42-carat rough stone, which was eventually cut into a cushion-shape brilliant that weighed 128.54 carats. It also featured an unimaginable 82 facets—24 more than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut at the time.
That is the key point we want you to take away from that little history lesson. Because a beautiful diamond isn't just about the carat weight. At Tiffany, there's a stringent vetting process before a rough diamond is deemed worthy. Part of this process touches on diamond traceability and sustainability as well.
In 2019, Tiffany became the first global luxury jeweller to provide the provenance (region or countries of origin) of its individually registered diamonds (0.18 carats or larger). More recently, the brand has expanded that level of transparency, revealing the full craftsmanship journey.
Customers will know where exactly their diamonds have been: from its country of origin to the place it was cut and polished, graded and quality assured to where it was set in jewellery.
"Sharing the craftsmanship journey of Tiffany diamonds reflects decades of investment in our supply chain. Directly sourcing responsibly mined rough diamonds, and crafting and setting those diamonds to our standards in our own workshops, is unique to Tiffany among luxury jewellers."
— Andrew Hart, SVP Diamond and Jewellery Supply, Tiffany & Co.
There has been a larger question mark regarding sustainability and ethical work practices when it comes to diamonds. In response, some have even turned to manmade diamonds as an alternative slash solution (but we'll leave that topic for another day). Tiffany & Co. understands this. Tiffany & Co. supports it. To start a change is to be that very change, and by taking this first step, it is hopeful that many others will follow suit.
We had a quick chat with Andrew Hart, SVP Diamond and Jewellery Supply at Tiffany & Co, to find out what brought about this industry-changing decision, what passes as a Tiffany diamond and other insider tidbits!
First off, congratulations to you and the brand on this wonderful new chapter. Diamond traceability has been a long time coming—why do you think it has taken this long?
The need for transparency evolves with the expectations of consumers. As the younger generation grows increasingly concerned with environmental and social issues, it is important to provide them with information that will help them to make informed decisions. In 2019, we started disclosing the provenance of our newly sourced, individually registered diamonds. Now, we are taking a step further in our commitment to diamond traceability by sharing the full craftsmanship journey, which reflects the decades of investment in our supply chain.
On that note, could you please elaborate further on why it (tracing the origins of diamonds and offering that level of transparency) is so important?
We believe that providing provenance and the full craftsmanship journey are vital in ensuring that our diamonds are responsibly sourced. We believe that knowing both the origin of a diamond and the conditions under which it was crafted is the best means to ensuring environmental and social responsibility.
Tiffany & Co. diamonds are, simply put, world-famous. Originally rough stones, the brand evidently follows a strict grading system at every step—what qualities in them constitute as a passing Tiffany & Co. grade?
At Tiffany & Co., we only accept 0.04 per cent of the world's gem-grade diamonds, which follows a strict vetting process adhering to our responsible sourcing standards as well as the 4Cs. Once a rough diamond is deemed worthy of Tiffany, it must be cut to our superlative requirements, often by one of our 1,500 talented artisans in our own workshops. Tiffany diamonds are always cut to maximise brilliance, not carat weight. Further, we only accept engagement diamonds ranging in the "colourless" and "near colourless" spectrum.
What are some common misconceptions about diamonds and diamond sourcing?
Among my least favourite misconceptions about diamonds are that they're not truly rare and that their supply is somehow controlled by a monopoly. Both are entirely untrue. Natural diamonds, an incredible miracle of nature, are increasingly rare and valuable.
Tiffany & Co. sources diamonds "mined in countries such as Australia, Botswana, Canada, Namibia, Russia and South Africa"—what differences do diamonds sourced from different countries have, if any?
Diamonds from different regions possess different geological characteristics. For example, many of our best yellow diamonds were mined in Australia, a provenance known for its particularly vivid coloured diamonds. While many jewellers buy only polished gems on the open market, Tiffany sources rough diamonds directly from responsible sources. Cutting, polishing and setting take place in our own workshops around the world. This allows us to both meet our own superlative quality standards while ensuring a safe and welcoming working environment for our artisans.
What has been your most memorable diamond-related story since working at Tiffany & Co.?
Perhaps it was my first visit to a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada, which Tiffany & Co. had made an investment in as part of our sustainability and vertical integration efforts. The extreme climate and sheer scale of the mine and the machinery used to excavate were something I'll never forget.
For more information on The Diamond Craftsmanship Journey and Tiffany’s sustainability efforts, visit Tiffany.com/sustainability.