DEFINITION: The successful stewardship of resources, from the extraction or sourcing of raw materials throughout the life cycle of jewelry, which creates equitable distribution of financial benefits across the jewelry supply chain. These benefits must also extend to impacted communities where the economic upsides of mining, refining, and production have historically been negated by the consequences of wealth extraction and compromised health, water, land, and air quality.

EXPLANATORY NOTE: Classically held definitions of economic sustainability center business interests, profitability, and the role of markets.

Diversifying revenue streams and prioritizing stability over unchecked growth results in long-term economic sustainability. Currently, equitable economic models required for economic sustainability do not widely exist in the jewelry industry.

Compromised water, land, and air quality are correlated with illnesses, disability, premature death, and declines in agricultural and fishing outputs. These negative outcomes impact economic sustainability through increased health care costs, loss of wages, and decreased productivity, among other ramifications. 

To achieve economically sustainable practices, the jewelry industry must institute and ensure  fair labor and pay standards; the right to organize and collectively bargain without fear of reprisals; gender and racial parity; safe work environments; shared decision-making with impacted communities; and profit sharing across the supply chain including mining communities, jewelry designers, refiners, gemstone cutters, and others.

One barrier to true economic sustainability is the practice of businesses socializing risk while privatizing profit. When companies go bankrupt, they can discharge their debts and responsibilities, including the monitoring and remediation of any pollution or environmental degradation resulting from their operations and their financial responsibilities to workers. This then places the fiscal and environmental burden on governments and societies to manage. At the same time, these companies may also keep profits generated by their operations regardless of bankruptcy.