At I. Gorman Jewelers in downtown DC, encased are the world’s most precious natural resources: diamonds, pearls, gold, and silver. Some are sourced from the most exotic places in the world. Several are produced under ethical practices.
Among the store’s best sellers is Todd Reed Jewelry, a label synonymous with turning rough diamonds into morsels of perfection.
Reed, a self-taught blacksmith, embarked on an ambitious endeavor 22 years ago when he decided to immortalize the diamond’s purest form. He started his journey by sourcing the raw diamonds from private collections and ethical mines in Sierra Leone (PRIDE Mine), Western Australia (Argyle) and Canada.
Reed designs and handcrafts each piece in his Colorado studio. There he studies the diamond’s characteristics, informing him on which direction he should take. Perhaps, it is a bracelet reminiscent of a cobblestone street in old Europe where each diamond haphazardly placed yet protected by the strength of recycled gold. Or it is a cluster of rose cut and black raw diamonds fastened eternally by a band of 18k gold. In exchange, Reed’s innovative designs have earned him industry awards and honors.
“I honestly make what I like,” Reed said. “What is important is that the design is connected to the material and my customers make that connection, too.”
Before green was the new black, Reed has lived and created with the environment and humanity in mind. A “right relationship”, a term Reed coined, guarantees the authenticity, premium value, and social responsibility garnered from years of sourcing from the same suppliers.
Albeit reluctant to wear the “green” badge himself, Reed encourages consumers to research diamond suppliers before making their purchase.
Thanks to initiatives such as the Kimberley Process, retailers and designers pledge to source conflict-free diamonds. The Kimberley Process, a joint government, industry and civil societies initiative, curtails buyers and designers from using potential conflict diamonds – diamonds used in exchange for weapons in war-torn countries such as Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’.
“There is nothing more sustainable than using recycled diamonds or new diamonds mined in ethical conditions,” Reed says. “They are truly the most beautiful resource we have.”