Podcast: Building Chains of Trust

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October 18, 2019
Guest: Susan Wheeler, Susan Wheeler Design/Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference

Responsible sourcing and transparent supply chains are key topics within the jewelry trade and they have become more important than ever to jewelry consumers. Across the industry, companies of all types and sizes are embracing, and in some cases creating their own, transparent sourcing initiatives and programs for metals, diamonds, and other gemstones. But, developing trustworthy and reliable sourcing channels requires more than simply focusing on technical logistics and savvy marketing. It also demands attention be paid to any potential far-reaching social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Award-winning jewelry designer and founder of the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference (CRJC), Susan Wheeler, has emerged as a leading voice in the responsible jewelry movement. It began with her own efforts to create “beautiful and timeless jewelry based on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.” In 2017, she organized the first Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference to bring together key industry players to discuss how to make jewelry supply chains more transparent and to address the needs of all communities, world-wide, that are affected by jewelry industry demands. Now entering its third year, the CRJC has grown in both size and scope, connecting jewelry makers, suppliers, executives, educators, and students, with members of the ethically mined and gem sourcing communities from around the globe. 

In this episode, Susan discusses her own journey toward responsible practices, the story behind the creation of the CRJC and its mission, initiatives to improve gemstone traceability, and the powerful roles that communication and collaboration play in facing the challenges of making jewelry "beautiful from beginning to end."