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Jewelers’ Ethical Sourcing Below Par, Report Says

Human Rights Watch investigates 13 leading companies’ supply-chain practices.
Feb 11, 2018 8:49 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Jewelry and watch companies need to increase efforts to ensure their supply chains are free of human-rights abuses, a campaign group cautioned in a report last week.

“Many jewelers can do more to find out if their gold or diamonds are tainted by child labor or other human-rights abuses,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate child-rights director at Human Rights Watch. “When someone buys a piece of jewelry for their loved one this Valentine’s Day, they should ask their jeweler what they have done to find out about its origin.”

The organization, along with 29 other civil-society groups and trade unions, stressed that jewelry companies were not doing enough to ensure they were sourcing responsibly. It’s up to jewelers and consumers to be aware of exactly where and how the jewelry originated, it added.

Human Rights Watch examined the sourcing practices of 13 leading jewelry companies, and reported that none of them received its highest ranking of “excellent” for meeting all the criteria for responsible sourcing. Only Tiffany & Co. received the second-highest ranking, “strong,” meaning that it has taken significant steps toward responsible sourcing. Tiffany can trace all of its gold back to one mine of origin, and conducts regular human-rights assessments with the mine, the report noted.

Bulgari, Cartier, Pandora and Signet Jewelers all received a “moderate” rating, having taken some important steps toward responsible sourcing, such as conducting mine visits or publishing information about their human-rights due-diligence efforts. Meanwhile, Boodles, Chopard, Christ and Harry Winston were all labeled “weak” for having taken few steps toward responsible sourcing.

With no evidence it had taken any steps toward responsible sourcing, Indian brand Tanishq was ranked “very weak,” the report stated. Kalyan, Rolex and TBZ received no ranking as they did not respond to requests to meet with the organization, and provided no information regarding their sourcing methods.

Many companies rely on suppliers’ assurances of ethical supply, without making further efforts to verify those claims, Human Rights Watch noted. Initiatives such as the Kimberley Process, which places no responsibility on companies, and the Responsible Jewellery Council, which needs to strengthen its standards and auditing practices, do not do enough to provide abuse-free assurance, it added.

“Too many companies point to their membership in the Responsible Jewellery Council as being all the proof they need of responsible sourcing,” Kippenberg said. “But this is not enough to truly ensure clean supply chains.”

Image: m01229/Flickr
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Tags: Boodles, Bulgari, Cartier, child labor, Chopard, Christ, Harry Winston, human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch, jewelers, Juliane Kippenberg, Kalyan, Kimberley Process, Pandora, Rapaport News, Responsible Jewellery Council, Rolex, Signet, Tanishq, TBZ, Tiffany, Tiffany & CO., Valentine’s Day
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