Our Ethical & Sustainability Standards

We hold the wellbeing of people and the environment at the heart of all we do. In contrast to a world so quickly mass-producing an abundance of “stuff” without regard for life or earth, we strive for quality not only in the jewelry we make and the materials we use, but also in the lives and environments of the people who supply them.

Because of the environmental impacts of mining (metal for 1 ring = 20 tons of earth displaced), we feel strongly that the most ethical choice is to use recycled precious materials whenever possible. We source our metal from a refinery who melts and re-mills precious scrap metal, and source our reclaimed diamonds through reputable partners, so we receive material we feel good about using and you feel good about wearing. 

 

What are reclaimed diamonds?

Sophie Hughes specializes in reclaimed and antique stones and we’re here to tell you exactly what that means.

Reclaimed diamonds are diamonds that have been previously set in jewelry, and have since been returned back into the diamond supply. Antique stones were cut and mined as long as centuries ago, so the huge benefit is their sustainability - there’s zero contribution to new mining operations. Reclaimed diamonds most often come from estate jewelry. Once they’re removed from their original setting, they’re inspected to ensure they’re in good condition to reset, reviewed by a grading lab like GIA for independent assessment, and then ready to be reused in a new piece!

You may be wondering if there is a difference in the quality of reclaimed stones because they’re often older and are being reused. Overall, reclaimed diamonds are no different from a newly mined stone in terms of quality. Diamonds are the hardest stone, 10 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale. They hold up incredibly well over time, rarely showing signs of wear. On the chance they need a little refresh, we recut or repolish them before they’re reviewed by a lab. The color, clarity, and carat of the stone are evaluated on the exact same scale as any other diamond that has been newly added to the market. Reclaimed diamonds in a modern cut, like Round Brilliant, are evaluated on the same cut scale as well. With antique diamonds, the main difference is the cut style. When it comes to round diamonds, there is one particular antique style that Sophie specializes in working with called Old European Cut.

Old European Cut Diamonds

The Old European Cut style came after the Old Mine and is the predecessor of the newer Modern Round Brilliant Cut. It was popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when diamonds were still being hand-cut by masters.

Old European Cut diamonds were also meant to be worn in candlelight, so their facets are a bit chunkier and reflect the light in a romantic way. They’re most easily identified by their true round shape and flat culet at the center of the stone. In modern cuts the culet, the bottom most point at the center of the stone, actually converges at a point. In Old European Cuts the culet does not come to an exact point resulting in it being visible from the top of the stone (that little circle you see in the center).

Modern Round Brilliant

Round Brilliant diamonds, which is the contemporary cut of today, have evolved from the earlier Old European Cuts. With advances in technology, diamond cutters have been able to focus on a more technical, precise manner of cutting diamonds. Unlike the hand-cutting of the past, stones are now laser-cut in a very streamlined manner in the hopes of maximizing the light reflection from inside the diamond. The facets are more slender and radiate from the center. These stones can still be found reclaimed even though they are modern cuts.

Old European on top, Round Brilliant on bottom. Notice the different facet structure. The top stone has chunkier facets and you can see the culet right at the center, while the bottom stone has slimmer facets. Both 18k Custom Rings by Sophie Hughes.

Old European on top, Round Brilliant on bottom. Notice the different facet structure. The top stone has chunkier facets and you can see the culet right at the center, while the bottom stone has slimmer facets. Both 18k Custom Rings by Sophie Hughes.


Why reclaimed?

They’re stunning, incredibly unique, and sustainable - what’s not to love? We specialize in reclaimed and antique stones with the intention of providing an eco-friendly and socially responsible option for our clients. In using reclaimed diamonds, we’re not contributing to new mining and we’re using what’s already available aboveground. There are plenty of beautiful options already out there just waiting to be repurposed into something new! The environmental and social benefits of using reclaimed stones aren’t the only reason we love them. Knowing that each stone has lived a prior life - a mystery left to our imaginations - brings a unique history not found with newly mined stones. It’s magical to think of the life they’ve lived before they become yours!

Have more questions about diamonds?
Contact us at ore@sophiehughes.com and ask away!