A recently published investigative report by Peruvian investigative news site OjoPúblico traced some of the dirtiest gold — illegally extracted, mercury processed gold from the Amazon — to large American and European companies — including two certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council, a controversial, industry-exclusive gold and diamonds certification system.
London/Geneva/Washington, D.C., Feb 5th – This Valentine’s Day, IndustriALL Global Union, London Mining Network, Earthworks, and LabourStart are challenging the world’s biggest jewellery retailer Signet to demand that its major diamond and gold supplier, multinational mining company Rio Tinto, clean up its mining practices so that they respect worker rights, indigenous peoples and the environment.
With global sales of US $6 billion annually, Signet’s 1,400 Kay and Jared jewellery shops are in every US State, 1,600 Zales stores are throughout the US and Canada, and 500 H. Samuel and Ernest Jones shops are visible on UK high streets. The National Retail Federation anticipates that twenty-one per cent of US shoppers will gift jewellery to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day this year, fuelling US jewellery sales of nearly $5 billion.
The coalition is calling on Signet to abide both by its own Responsible Sourcing Policy, and its 2006 public endorsement of the No Dirty Gold campaign’s Golden Rules for more responsible mining. Signet’s Responsible Sourcing Policy declares the company “committed to the responsible sourcing of our products and the respect of human rights, and we expect the same from our suppliers around the world.” Endorsement of the Golden Rules, endorsed by over 100 jewellery retailers around the world, commits signers to pressure their suppliers to come into compliance with the Rules -- which are drawn from broadly accepted international human rights laws and basic principles of sustainable development.
But Rio Tinto is a notorious violator of labour rights, communities, and the environment.
This weekend, jewelers from around the world will gather in Las Vegas for the Jewelry Circular Keystone (JCK) conference, where they will attend jewelry exhibits, discuss the latest industry trends and even see Maroon 5 live.
What does this have to do with us -- and with you?
Trade unions and environmental groups team up to expose deep flaws in jewelry certification system
Washington, D.C., Ottawa, Geneva, Sydney, May 22, 2013 – In a new report, More Shine Than Substance: How RJC certification fails to create responsible jewelry, an international coalition of labor and environmental groups indict the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)’s certification system as misleading jewelry consumers. The RJC holds its annual meeting in Milan on May 23.
“Jewelry is meant to lift our spirits. But it loses its value if it’s made with gold or diamonds that are tarnished by human rights abuses or environmental destruction,” said Earthworks’ No Dirty Gold campaign director Payal Sampat. She continued, “Unfortunately, RJC’s certification cannot reassure consumers that the gems and precious metals that pass through its system did not come at the cost of community health or clean water.”
The groups releasing More Shine Than Substance include the trade union federation, IndustriALL, which represents 50 million workers globally, CFMEU Australia, United Steelworkers, and environmental advocacy groups Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada.