Behind the Sparkle: A Call to Action for the Jewelry Industry

Jewelry is meant to be a symbol of beauty, love and commitment. Every year, consumers buy nearly $300 billion worth of jewelry for themselves or their loved ones. But increasingly, promoting the story of beauty, love and commitment is not enough – customers want to be sure that the precious minerals and gemstones in their jewelery have been sourced responsibly.

The conditions in which gold and diamonds are mined can be brutal. Miners – including children – are injured and killed in dangerous gold or diamond mines. Indigenous peoples and other local residents living near large-scale mines are forcibly displaced. In conflict zones, civilians suffer enormously when abusive armed groups and criminal networks enrich themselves by mining gold and diamonds. Mines pollute waterways and soils with toxic chemicals, harming the health and livelihoods of entire communities.

Jewelry companies don’t do enough to ensure they source responsibly, and many don’t publicly and transparently report on the due diligence efforts they say they undertake. Companies often rely on the Responsible Jewelery Council, which includes more than 1,000 companies in the jewelery supply chain. But the Responsible Jewelery Council promotes standards that allow companies to be certified even when they fail to respect basic human rights. The Kimberley Process, another scheme often used by companies, focuses too narrowly on diamonds linked to rebel forces, applies only to rough diamonds, and places no liability on companies. Governments rarely require industry actors to undertake robust human rights due diligence. The United States and the European Union have adopted responsible gold sourcing laws (as well as tin, tungsten and tantalum), but more countries need to follow their lead and the laws should apply to a greater wide range of minerals.

Jewelry companies can meet the demand for ethically sourced jewelry by putting accountability and transparency at the heart of their business – and a few have already started to do so. Under existing voluntary standards, set by the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, companies are required to put in place a “due diligence” process to identify human rights risks, address these risks and report their efforts to the public. and independent auditors.

We, the undersigned NGOs and trade unions, call on the jewelery industry to turn its commitment to responsible sourcing into effective action.

Jewelry companies should:

  • Establish and implement a robust supply chain due diligence policy and embed it in supplier contracts, in line with the five steps outlined in the OECD Supply Chain Due Diligence Guidance responsible for minerals from conflict-affected or high-risk areas;
  • Ensure a full chain of custody over gold and diamonds by requiring and assessing evidence of business transactions, among others, as well as the provenance of minerals and their transport routes from their suppliers;
  • Assess and respond to human rights risks along their supply chains, including ensuring that workers have the right to unionize and have access to effective remedy;
  • Verify their own conduct and that of their suppliers through independent third-party audits;
  • Publicly report on their human rights due diligence on an annual basis, including risks identified, mitigation measures taken and investments made in this regard;
  • Publish the names of their gold and diamond suppliers, as well as information on the suppliers’ participation in independent third-party audit mechanisms, where applicable;
  • Actively seek opportunities to source gold and diamonds from artisanal and small-scale mines that are not associated with human rights abuses and willing to engage in credible legalization and formalization processes ;
  • Support initiatives to improve human rights conditions in artisanal and small-scale mining communities, including through formalization, implementation of due diligence and community-based human rights initiatives;
  • Actively participate in and support multi-stakeholder initiatives designed to strengthen responsible mineral sourcing and due diligence across industries and sectors; this should include mining cooperatives and trade unions.

Amnesty International

Southern Africa Anti-Corruption Trust

Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz Kolumbien ask! (Swiss Working Group on Colombia, Switzerland)

Artisanal Gold Council (Canada)

Center for Natural Resource Governance (Zimbabwe)

Coalition Against Child Labor (USA)

Civil Society Coalition of the Great Lakes Region Against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (African Great Lakes Region)

Ecumenical Institute of Labor Education and Research (Philippines)

Enough Project (USA)

Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (Society for Threatened Peoples STP, Switzerland)

Global March Against Child Labor

World Witness

Support Group for Natural Resource Exploiters (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Research and Advocacy Group on Extractive Industries (Côte d’Ivoire)

Human Rights Watch

Indian Committee of the Netherlands (Netherlands)

IMPACT (Canada)

IndustriALL Global Union

International Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility

International Labor Rights Forum

MIHOSO International (Ghana)

National Consumers League (USA)

Organization of the New Light Children’s Center (Tanzania)

Public Eye (Switzerland)

Hunger Fight Network (Cameroon)

Solidarity organization Afrikagrupperna (African groups in Sweden)

Stop Child Labor Coalition (Netherlands)

Swedwatch (Sweden)

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zimbabwe)