As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people wish to buy jewelry from big brands who get their diamonds and gold from some of the most controversial sources.
The Human Rights Watch has launched the #BehindTheBling campaign to put pressure on jewelers to guarantee the sources of their jewelry and to ensure they are not tainted by human rights abuses.
In a report released on Thursday, the global rights organisation assessed the sourcing of gold and diamonds by 13 major jewelry and watch brands that collectively generate over US$30 billion in annual revenue – about 10 percent of global jewelry sales.
They found a difference in the practices of the brands and ranked the 13 companies according to specific responsible sourcing criteria, including efforts to assess and respond to human rights risks, establish traceability, and publicly report about the company’s actions.
None of the companies was ranked as “excellent” and only Tiffany and Co. was ranked as “strong” for taking significant steps toward responsible sourcing. Four others including Bulgari, Cartier, Pandora, and Signet were ranked as “moderate” for taking some important steps toward responsible sourcing.
For Boodles, Chopard, Christ, and Harry Winston, they were ranked as “weak” for taking few steps toward responsible sourcing. Tanishq was ranked as “very weak” due to a lack of any evidence of steps towards responsible sourcing.
The three remaining companies including Kalyan, Rolex, and TBZ did not respond claiming they do not disclose any information regarding their sourcing policies and practices.
HRW also found that two major initiatives to check the sourcing of the jewels do not provide sufficient assurance that diamonds or gold have been mined without contributing to abuse. They are the Kimberley Process and Responsible Jewellery Council that provides certification.
“Many jewelers can do more to find out if their gold or diamonds are tainted by child labor or other human rights abuses. 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,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate child rights director at Human Rights Watch.
He added that some jewelry companies are making an effort to source responsibly but they need to do more. “Jewelry companies owe it to their customers and to the communities affected by their businesses to source truly responsibly and allow public scrutiny of their actions.”
Over 15,000 people have signed a petition calling on the 13 global jewelry brands to ensure their jewelry is responsibly sourced and to address human rights abuses in their supply chains.
This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com