All the precious metals and semi-precious/precious gemstones I work with are responsibly sourced from trusted suppliers in the U.K. These suppliers are working hard to ensure best practices are met. They visit and build strong relationships with the workshops and factories where the gemstones are cut, and are confident that the people employed are treated well and fairly.
There is an ethical issue within the jewellery industry when it comes to the gathering and mining of gemstones, diamonds and precious metals, (particularly gold) as they can all pass through many sources several times in their journey from earth to supplier. The suppliers I use work hard to ensure that there is traceability and working standards are met.
From an environmental stance, we must not forget that gemstones and precious metals form part of our living environment. Gemstones and metals are mined from under our earths crust, from miles under our oceans, glaciers, ice caps and reefs. Working with recycled silver or recycled gold sadly does not prevent the need for continued mining.