‘We’re focused on being the jeweller that cares’: Michael Hill’s CMO on ethics and ESG

Fine jewellery brand Michael Hill is launching a complete brand refresh on Monday, and chief marketing officer Jo Feeney tells Mumbrella the new era will have its environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices front-of-mind.

The jewellery industry has historically been accused of using unethical operations to source diamonds.

The diamond industry, in particular, has been accused of a number of unethical practices, including using child labour and disregarding human rights in mines, mostly in countries where regulation is not strict. Its biggest controversy, ‘conflict diamonds’, still rages as an issue today.

Diamond mining has also often been slammed for its negative environmental impacts on water resources, air quality, wildlife, soil quality and climate change consideration. It isn’t sustainable, due to the limited amount of material in the earth.

According to the International Gem Society, an average of 160kg of greenhouse gases is released per polished carat of mined diamond and mining companies move 250 tonnes of earth per carat of mind diamond.

Fine jewellery brands such as Michael Hill are on a constant journey of improving their impacts on the environment and community, and chief marketer Jo Feeney tells Mumbrella the brand’s new era, officially launching on Monday, April 15, will have ethics and ESG at the forefront.

“We’re really passionate about sustainability and good business practices,” she says. “We stand for quality – it’s not just a really critical part of our products, but everything we do.

“We’re very focused on being the jeweller that cares, we are very committed to reaching our 2030 ESG goals and we want to be one of the most sustainable jewellers in the world.”

The brand aims to move the business and broader jewellery industry towards a more responsible future, through three main paths: product, planet and people.

Michael Hill’s 2030 goals will see 100% of its products being sustainable, responsible or circular, its negative impact go down to net zero and the lives of people across its value chain improved drastically.


By the end of this year, the brand will ‘champion innovation’ by creating a hub that integrates jewellery circularity, product innovation and lab-grown diamonds. Then, by 2025, it pledges that 100% of its silver and gold products will be made from certified recycled, responsibly sourced, local or artisanal sources. And by 2030, 100% of its diamonds, coloured gemstones and cultured pearls will be certified sustainable or responsibly sourced.

Source: Michael Hill website

“The work and the elevation of our brand shifts this positioning and we’re leading the charge,” Feeney tells Mumbrella.

“We we want to be seen as a diamond destination, but ethically. We’re a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, we have conflict-free diamonds and certified lab-grown diamonds, and we’re actually one of the first in the Australian market to do that.”

Its ‘Re:cycle’ program focuses on the renewal and circularity of existing precious metals and products. Encouraging Aussies to “give life to their old loves”, gold jewellery pieces can be exchanged for its value via a gift card, to be refined and recycled.

Gold recycling is a “vital part” of making the jewellery industry sustainable, according to Feeney.

While diamond mining is the obvious issue, she says there’s also limited gold in the earth, so its important to reduce waste and preserve Earth’s raw materials.


By 2025, the brand says it will achieve net zero carbon operations (scopes 1 and 2) and will contribute to the restoration and conservation of the natural environment in its key markets. By 2027, it will send zero waste to landfill and eliminate single-use plastic from its packaging.

Source: Michael Hill website

As part of this goal, the brand says it is committed to nature restoration, through its not-for-profit Michael Hill Foundation, and its initiative, ‘One Tree Planted’.

“If you buy a lab diamond at Michael Hill, we’ll plant up to ten trees with ‘One Tree Planted’,” Feeney says.

“We’ve got a goal to plant a million trees by 2030, and it’s critical as it will aid in improving air quality, sequestering carbon, preventing soil erosion, and it will provide biodiverse habitats for wildlife.”


For its people, come 2030, 100% of its suppliers will meet its ESG expectations, and initiatives will be delivered and partnerships will be developed to empower and support women globally.

Source: Michael Hill website

The Michael Hill Foundation is “dedicated to driving positive change for disadvantaged women within our communities”, Feeney explains.

Since 2021, it has donated over $300,000 to this cause. And this year, it is continuing its existing partnerships with Dress for Success in Australia and Women’s Refuge in New Zealand, and will start a new partnership with The Period Purse in Canada, to support women in need.

With an aim to “empower 100,000 women” by 2030, Feeney recognises the impact the industry plays on the planet, and hopes the focus on empowering women will contribute to a more just future.

“I could go on for hours,” she jokes. “But we’re really working hard on our ESG practices, and ethics, and we’re really proud to be the most sustainable that we can be in many aspects.”


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