Ethics in the Jewelry Industry
As we become more aware of ethics issues relating to the different kinds of products we purchase across all industries, we see the jewelry industry stepping up to bring them to light, evaluate them, and improve its processes. Globalization, industry growth, small artisan or family owned mines, and variations in laws and regulations throughout the world are all things that make this issue complicated. We hope through new technology and well organized initiatives we will be able to understand and improve our industry’s impact on economy’s throughout the world and our environment.
What’s being done?
There are several groups, compacts, and initiatives that have formed as a response to the increased humanitarian and environmental concerns. One is the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), in order to be a part of this group your business has to undergo an audit process to ensure the guidelines are being followed. The RJC also provides training for companies going through the approval process. At least four of our largest vendors here at Teel Jewelers are RJC members! Then of course, there is the UN Global Compact and their mission, which is “A call to companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals”. Another is the Dragonfly Initiative, where they are trying to bring similar guidelines into the colored stone industry. Some companies are using new technology to try to track gold and diamonds from the mine to retail. The Trustchain initiative is a global jewelry industry initiative using blockchain technology to track diamonds used in jewelry.
How will these initiatives help?
These groups are not trying to shut down industry or production, but bring to light the problems, study repercussions of change, and come up with ways to improve regulation, processes, and conditions for workers. “Consider this statistic: In 2017, the World Bank estimated that at least 100 million people – workers and families— worldwide are involved in artisanal mining, the types of mines often producing precious metals and gemstones. So the goal is to help them mine safely, and make sure that enough mining revenue remains with them so they can invest in the clean water, schools, and other services their families and communities need.” (Taken from a Forbes article found HERE). In the areas of the world where many of these mines and factories are there isn’t much going on in the economy to support the population. If there was a sudden stop to mining and producing these workers would be left with no other income options, so the best thing a consumer can do is to make sure they are purchasing from responsible companies verses not purchasing at all.
At Teel Jewelers we find it important to invest in the companies that abide by the RJC guidelines so each individual that had a hand in producing your beautiful jewelry gets a fair wage, a safe working environment, and to help lower the impact our industry has on the environment.