By Human Rights Watch
Our research found that most of the 13 jewelry companies we contacted directly recognize their human rights responsibilities and have made some efforts to responsibly source their gold and diamonds. However, their practices differ significantly.
Some of the companies scrutinized for this report have taken important steps to address human rights risks in the gold and diamond supply chain. For example, Tiffany and Co. can trace all of its newly mined gold back to one mine of origin and conducts regular human rights assessments with the mine. Cartier and Chopard have full chain of custody for a portion of their gold supply. Bulgari has conducted visits to mines to check human rights conditions. Pandora has published detailed information about its human rights due diligence efforts, including on noncompliance found during audits of its suppliers and steps it is taking to address them. In addition, two companies we contacted have pledged to take specific steps to improve their practices going forward. Boodles has pledged to develop a comprehensive code of conduct for its gold and diamond suppliers, and to make it public. The company has also pledged to report publicly on its human rights due diligence from 2019, and to conduct more rigorous human rights assessments. Christ has pledged to publish its supplier code of conduct and other information on its human rights due diligence efforts in the coming year.
While these are promising signs, we found that most companies still fall short of meeting international standards. While some companies are actively working to identify and address human rights risks in their supply chains, others rely simply on the assurances of their suppliers that their gold and diamonds are free of human rights abuses, without rigorously verifying these claims. Some have made no commitments to responsible sourcing at all. Almost none can identify the specific mines where all of their gold and diamonds originate. Few provide comprehensive public reports on their efforts to responsibly source gold and diamonds.
Based on information provided to us by the companies directly and publicly available information, we assess the company’s responsible sourcing policies and practices as follows:
Excellent (Companies that fulfill all of the criteria for responsible sourcing:)
Strong (Companies that have taken significant steps towards responsible sourcing): Tiffany and Co.
Moderate (Companies that have taken some important steps towards responsible sourcing):Bulgari, Cartier, Pandora, Signet
Weak (Companies that have taken few steps towards responsible sourcing): Boodles, Chopard, Christ, Harry Winston
Very weak (Companies for which there was no evidence of steps towards responsible sourcing):Tanishq
No ranking due to nondisclosure (Companies that provide no information regarding responsible sourcing): Kalyan, Rolex, TBZ Ltd.
Our research also found that many companies are over-reliant on the Responsible Jewellery Council for their human rights due diligence. The RJC has positioned itself as a leader for responsible business in the jewelry industry, but has flawed governance, standards, and certification systems. Despite its shortcomings, many jewelry companies use RJC certification to present their gold and diamonds as “responsible.” This is not enough.
While the industry has a long way to go, some exciting initiatives have emerged in recent years to show that change is possible. The Canadian jeweler Fair Trade Jewellery Co. has recently started to import fully-traceable gold from artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A growing number of small jewelers in the UK and elsewhere are sourcing their gold from artisanal mines in Latin America that are certified under the Fairtrade or the Fairmined gold standard. And a Canadian diamond company, the Dominion Diamond Corporation, has introduced a line of traceable diamonds called CanadaMark, which are independently tracked at every stage from the mine to polished stone.
To move forward, all jewelry companies need to put in place strong human rights safeguards—otherwise, they risk contributing to human rights abuses. In particular, companies should:
- Put in place a robust supply chain policy that is incorporated into contracts with suppliers;
- Establish chain of custody over gold and diamonds by documenting business transactions along the full supply chain back to the mine of origin, including by requiring suppliers to share detailed evidence of the supply chain;
- Assess human rights risks throughout their supply chains;
- Respond to human rights risks throughout their supply chains;
- Check their own conduct and that of their suppliers through independent third-party audits (a systematic and independent examination of a company’s conduct);
- Publicly report on their human rights due diligence, including risks identified;
- Publish the names of their gold and diamond suppliers;
- And source from responsible, rights-respecting artisanal and small-scale mines.
To be credible, the Responsible Jewellery Council should become a true multi-stakeholder body by giving civil society and industry representatives equal decision-making power at all levels and strengthening its standards and auditing practices to set a higher bar for responsible sourcing practices by the industry.
Read the full report on Human Rights Watch