Big Luxury Jewelry Brands Drop Industrial Group Over Russian Ties, But LVMH Remains Silent

Topline

Luxury watchmaker Watches of Switzerland is the latest company to quit the Responsible Jewelery Council – the standards body for the jewelry and watch industries – over the group’s refusal to cut ties with Russia, to following major brands like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Pandora.

Highlights

Watches of Switzerland said in a statement on Thursday that the company was “shocked and dismayed” by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that the brand had decided to withdraw from the RJC because the group’s “approach” contradicts the “shared values ​​we expect from our industry”.

Earlier this week, other brands from Cartier and Richemont, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc and Piaget, also left the RJC. values.

Kering, whose holdings include Boucheron – one of France’s oldest jewelery workshops – Pomellato and Qeelin, also left the RJC due to what he described as the group’s “inability to cope with the current situation. in Europe” in a manner consistent with Kering values.

Pandora, the world’s largest jewelry maker, announced on Wednesday it was leaving the RJC after 12 years of membership for the group’s “failure to suspend memberships from Russian companies” and for failing to urge members to cease their business with Russia.

RJC executive director Iris Van der Veken also resigned this week, apparently unhappy with the group’s failure to suspend Alrosa’s membership.

The RJC did not immediately respond to a Forbes request for comment.

To monitor

If more brands leave the RJC. It’s likely there will be “a lock of big business leaving now,” said Tobias Kormind, an industry expert and managing director of 77 Diamonds, Europe’s largest online diamond jeweler. Forbes in a report. Luxury conglomerate LVMH, which includes Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari, is a founding member of the group and has not signaled its intention to leave. Tiffany announced a break on buy russian diamonds last month. Bulgari’s chief jewelry officer, Mauro di Roberto, has resigned from the RJC board, according to Business in vogue, and Bulgari has indicated that it will remain a member of the industry group pending an upcoming vote. LVMH did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Key Context

The RJC is facing backlash for not suspending the membership of Russian companies like Alrosa, which is Russian state-owned and the world’s largest diamond producer. Alrosa voluntarily resigned from the RJC board earlier this month but is still listed as a member. The United States sanctioned Alrosa in February. RJC may be in conflict in part because 40% of the world’s supply of rough diamonds – and 30% by value – comes from Russia, according to Kormind. “The big elephant in the room is whether Russian diamonds will soon be defined as conflict diamonds,” he said. Forbes.

Further reading

Pandora, Richemont and Kering leave Jewelry Sustainability Group due to slow response to Russian invasion (Forbes)

The diamond jewelery industry is on high alert as Russian sanctions threaten to impact diamond supply (Forbes)

Richemont and Kering quit Responsible Jewelery Council amid Russian ties (Vogue Business)