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Ingle & Rhode sells luxury jewelry pieces that are more sustainable than the majority of those found within their industry, and they do so by utilizing traceability and accountability in their supply chain to produce jewelry that is free from blood diamonds and gemstones, dirty precious metals, human labor violations, and environmental degradation. Specifically, Ingle & Rhode’s innovative supply chain approach involves traceable and ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones; fair trade and recycled precious metals; and a cheaper yet equally high-quality alternative to mined diamonds known as lab-grown diamonds. Ingle & Rhode’s sustainability initiatives extend throughout their entire end-to-end supply chain process from supplier to consumer, and their innovation of ethical and sustainable luxury jewelry actively works to progress two of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: #12: Responsible Consumption and Production and #13: Climate Action.
The luxury jewelry industry is worth $87 billion and is expected to reach a whopping $266.53 billion within the next five years. Recognizing a lucrative opportunity, many suppliers and jewelers quickly enter the industry and overlook incorporating sustainability into their supply chain efforts. This unsustainable, and often unethical, misuse of resources frequently results in numerous human rights violations such as sweatshops, production lines, child labor, and the utilization of war and violence to displace people from their homes and mine the land. These unsustainable activities simultaneously advance environmental degradation through deforestation and the production of carbon emissions. Ingle & Rhode offers an innovative solution to these sustainability issues through their luxury jewelry pieces that are produced through a carefully crafted traceable and ethical supply chain.
Ingle & Rhode’s luxury jewelry pieces utilize only diamonds and gemstones that can be traced back to their country of origin through authentic credentials. Instead of sourcing from questionable countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Russia, Ingle & Rhode sources their stones from Canada, Australia, and Sri Lanka due to each country’s ability to guarantee traceability. When sourcing from Canada, Ingle & Rhode relies on the CanadaMark certification that separates each stone and engraves it with an individual and traceable serial number so it does not get lost or swapped within the supply chain. Furthermore, when sourcing precious metals, Ingle & Rhode holds a license from the United Kingdom’s FairTrade Foundation which allies the company with fair trade gold mines that hold the same ethical standards. In addition, Ingle & Rhode sources their recycled platinum from a United States refinery whose operations are regularly audited by a third-party Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) organization.
To take their business one step further past sustainable stones and fair trade and recycled precious metals, and therefore truly innovate in the luxury jewelry space, co-founders David Rhode and Tim Ingle went back to the drawing board. Tim recalls how, in the beginning, it was a hard lesson to learn that their customers were very price sensitive, and that “very few people [were] prepared to pay for an ethical product.” To resolve this pain point, the two entrepreneurs ideated the development of lab-grown diamonds that were visually as beautiful and physically as durable as the real thing, but also drastically less expensive and more sustainable to produce and purchase.
Today, over 15 years since Ingle & Rhode’s establishment, the company has grown to sell a broad luxury jewelry portfolio of ethically crafted rings, necklaces, earrings, and more that utilize ethically mined and lab-grown stones and fair trade and recycled precious metals. Ingle & Rhode’s high quality, reliable products have resulted in a strong and loyal European consumer base plus critical acclaim from publications like Vogue, BBC, and The Independent. Ingle & Rhode seeks to continue providing dependable and sustainable luxury jewelry while both increasing consumer awareness about ethical jewelry and incentivizing luxury jewelry companies around the globe to emulate their business model and supply chain methods.
Co-founders Tim Ingle (left) & David Rhode (right).
In 2007, David Rhode was seeking an engagement ring. No matter where he looked, whether at a corporate jeweler or a small, family-run bijoutier, engagement rings with ethically sourced diamonds and precious metals were hard (if not impossible) to find. When David would ask the jewelers where they sourced their diamonds and precious metals from, not a single one could answer him with 100% certainty. Discouraged by the fruitless engagement ring search and frustrated by the jewelers’ nonchalant attitudes, David decided to fulfill his own need.
Reaching out to his long-time friend, Tim Ingle, David described his new business idea. He expressed his passion for creating high-quality and ethically crafted luxury jewelry to fulfill a clear gap in the jewelry market, and with Tim having the necessary entrepreneurial skills to help such a business come to fruition, “Together, we said we’d give it a go,” says Tim. The idea was particularly intriguing to Tim as at the time, there were no pioneers in the luxury jewelry space, and he saw a special intersection where making a profit and making an impact were not mutually exclusive.
“People ultimately want a sustainable product, and given the choice of two products - and one’s produced in a responsible way and one’s not - [consumers are] going to go for the responsible product,” says Tim. With the idea of sustainable luxury jewelry in mind, David Rhode and Tim Ingle launched Ingle & Rhode and did what no other jeweler around them was doing at the time: creating luxury jewelry pieces made from traceable and ethically sourced diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals. This ingenious pivot in the luxury jewelry industry continues to exist as a solution and inspiration for new sustainable business models over 15 years later.
Ingle & Rhode’s impact on the luxury jewelry industry extends from their internal business operations and results to the external effects on society and the environment. Through their supply chain management, Ingle & Rhode holds both themselves and their suppliers accountable as they craft timeless luxury jewelry pieces that feature traceable ethical diamonds and gemstones, fair trade and recycled precious metals, and lab-grown diamonds. Ingle & Rhode’s commitment to partnering with licensed suppliers and following industry regulations under the United Kingdom’s FairTrade Foundation, CanadaMark certification, and Kimberly certification (an overall industry certification that prohibits blood diamonds from circulation) shows a commitment to building a supply chain and business model that both suppliers and consumers can rely on to make better production and consumption choices.
From higher profits to stronger competitive advantage, increased education of consumers about industry alternatives, and fewer detrimental impacts on society and the environment, Ingle & Rhode has developed an impressive business model, innovative supply chain, and luxury jewelry development strategy that can be replicated on a global scale. Co-founders David Rhode and Tim Ingle display inner well-being and mindfulness as they craft a more sustainable future for the luxury jewelry industry through their quantum leadership and radical innovation.
Although Tim said Ingle & Rhode cannot claim full credit for the growing incorporation of sustainability in the luxury jewelry industry, he does believe the company has served as a precedent and inspiration for both current and upcoming jewelry companies, as well as aided in educating consumers about the benefits and costs of jewelry when considering a purchase. With a supply chain that incorporates traceability and accountability at each step, and continuous efforts to innovate new ideas (such as lab-grown diamonds), Ingle & Rhode is able to offer products that are highly differentiated from competitors but also drive a profit. Lab-grown diamonds, as opposed to mined diamonds, are how Ingle & Rhode stands out from their competition the most as the comparably high-quality and beautiful stone alternatives are cheaper and more sustainable for both the business to produce and consumers to purchase. In other words, neither the supplier nor the buyer has to compromise quality and ethics for profit or affordability.
Aside from product differentiation and the profit it creates, another reason Ingle & Rhode’s business has flourished is because of its reputation. In the luxury jewelry industry, many “other jewelers use greenwashing or misinformation about ethical credentials,” says Tim, “[because] it’s much easier to greenwash and obscure things than actually change because actually changing is slower and costly and painful and takes a lot of work.” As a certified B-Corp; United Kingdom FairTrade Foundation license holder; and Vogue, BBC, and The Independent featured company, Ingle & Rhode has proven that they are a truly ethical company that does not feign sustainability or credentials to deceive consumers into making a purchase. Honesty and accountability are big factors in Ingle & Rhode’s business model as they build trusting relationships with new and existing suppliers and customers.
Ingle & Rhode is redefining the luxury jewelry industry through their commitment to removing human labor violations and environmental degradation from their supply chain. By sourcing their diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals from licensed or third-party audited credible sources that trace from the country of origin to the country of sale as well as by creating their own lab-grown diamonds, Ingle & Rhode’s social benefit is the reduction of human rights violations by avoiding suppliers who support sweatshops, production lines, child labor, war, and displacement. Ingle & Rhode does so by exclusively collaborating with ethical suppliers who “treat their workers with dignity and respect while mitigating their impact on the environment” (Ingle & Rhode, n.d.).
Environmentally, Ingle & Rhode reduces the overall demand for mined diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals by educating consumers about the existence of lab-grown diamonds and recycled platinum alternatives. In addition, the resources Ingle & Rhode incorporates in their luxury jewelry products that are still mined from the Earth are used only after there is confirmation of strict and thorough environmental standards and regulations being in place at the point of origin. One type of location that Ingle & Rhode sources from is low-impact artisanal mines. Tim explains that Ingle & Rhode is “a lot more aware of the fact that the planet can only tolerate a certain degree of exploitation, and extractive industries have to be very careful about the impact that they have and obviously jewelry is very dependent on the extractive industries.”Overall, by choosing different mediums of sourcing, whether it be socially and environmentally conscious mining and recycling or bypassing external supply chains entirely by creating an entirely new resource in-house, Ingle & Rhode is committed to social and environmental efforts that leave the Earth and its people better than they were found.
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Tim Ingle, Co-Founder and Director
Ingle & Rhode is a for-profit, B-Corp-certified luxury jewelry company founded in 2007 by David Rhode and Tim Ingle. Based in the United Kingdom, Ingle & Rhode was established due to a lack of availability of ethical and sustainable luxury jewelry options in an industry known to normalize blood diamonds and gemstones, dirty precious metals, human labor violations, and environmental degradation. Thanks to the incorporation of transparent and sustainable supply chain management, Ingle & Rhode’s ethical luxury jewelry has cemented the company as a competitive player in their industry, as well as a source of inspiration for other jewelers around the globe to follow their example.