In today’s volatile climate there can’t be a jewellery retailer, importer, or producer in the land who doesn’t take the recycling of precious metals extremely seriously. They would be foolish not to, for there is money to be made: but what about diamonds?
“We know for certain that many of those in the trade who recycle precious metals, whether they are specialist metal dealers, pawnbrokers or jewellers are simply not interested in the diamond component of the jewellery brought into them for scrap and that a great many of the less valuable and smaller stones will simply be discarded; damaged as they are removed from the pieces being scrapped; or even shoved into a draw and forgotten. We want those stones and we will pay a fair price for them,” says Tim Phillips, European Director of White Pine Diamonds, a global diamond recycling company which opened for business in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in January 2012 and has in the past nine months processed some 25,000 carats of recycled diamonds in this country alone.
White Pine was established in New York in 2010, and during its two years in business has grown rapidly to become one of the biggest recycled diamond companies in the world with a global trading value last year of nearly $50 million dollars. In addition to its offices in New York and Birmingham, White Pine has now opened a European office in Barcelona and a further office in Japan.
In the nine months since it opened its doors in Birmingham it has taken on five new staff including qualified diamond graders and an intern from the Birmingham School of Jewellery. Diamond purchases for the company here in the UK have exceeded $5 million dollars since it started trading two years ago however British jewellery retailers and pawnbrokers still lag considerably behind their USA counterparts in embracing the recycling concept and White Pine believes there is still plenty of opportunity to grow the available market in Britain.
“We value every diamond and will buy even the lowest quality stones. Black, brown, chipped, whatever, we will purchase everything because providing you have an expert sorting and grading facility – as we do – even the poorest stones are capable of being re-cut and re-packaged for re-use within the industry. We generally only arrange specific visits to our customers for a minimum purchase weight of around 50 carats, which can be made up entirely of unmatched stones, but we arrange secure shipping to our office for smaller amounts,” explains Phillips.
White Pine’s willingness to buy stones of all sizes, grades, and conditions is unusual and Phillips believes it is a real plus for potential customers. “They don’t need to do anything themselves apart from gather together the stones they want to sell and make the call. One of our expert team, all of whom are certified gemmologists, will then visit them to review the stones, or will arrange shipping to our office, before sorting and grading them and finally paying a fair market price for what they find. We are looking to build long term relationships with our customers and are proud to be able to offer them the benefit of dealing with an established business with a huge upstream sales contact network which is constantly monitoring price movements and adjusting its prices accordingly,” he says.
Quite apart from its role providing an extra source of revenue to those with diamonds to dispose of, White Pine is keen to stress the ethical element of recycling. “The more recycled diamonds we can sell back into the industry, the less new diamonds will need to be mined and the less environmental impact there will be,” says Phillips.
However, as Phillips readily admits, recycled diamonds represent as yet a very small proportion of the world’s total diamond sales. “We believe they currently account for less than 5% of all diamonds sold – which is great for us because it means there is plenty of room for growth and we looking forward to working with more potential clients in the UK jewellery industry to grow that number to the benefit of us all,” he says.
Readers wishing to discover more about the services offered by White Pine Diamonds UK should call 0121 639 0135,