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NGO report highlights widespread health, labour abuses in global gemstone supply chain

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10 February 2010

Rough Cut: Sustainability Issues in the Coloured Gemstone Industry

Author: SOMO, The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations [Netherlands]

Colourful gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds, grace a huge amount of jewellery…[A] new study by SOMO into the supply chain of coloured gemstones; ‘Rough Cut. Sustainability Issues in the Coloured Gemstone Industry’…carried out research into the CSR policy of leading international jewellers: Signet Group...Wal Mart & Tiffany...GemTV...and the leading jewellers in the Netherlands: Bijenkorf and Siebel. SOMO also carried out field research into the working conditions of cutters in Thailand and miners in Madagascar…Child labour, health damage, fatal accidents, low income and work insecurity: it is primarily the miners and cutters who suffer these damaging consequences… “[T]here is still a lack of serious, sector-wide sustainability initiatives within the gemstones sector,”…says [researcher Sanne] Van der Wal

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10 February 2010

[PDF] Rough Cut: Sustainability Issues in the Coloured Gemstone Industry

Author: E. de Haan, S. van der Wal, J. Cross, SOMO [Netherlands]

This report…outline[s] the social, environmental and economic issues present in the coloured gemstone supply chain…[T]he coloured gemstone trade can be linked to support terrorism and suppression in a number of countries…[T]here was a high reported incidence of child labour throughout the value chain, from gemstone mining to manufacturing…there often is a lack of adequate safety measures to prevent accidents in improvised mining sites…Other negative social impacts include poor public health…in mining environments and mining towns from lack of proper sanitation and hygiene…[T]here are currently no operational sector-wide initiatives or standard systems that aim to address sustainability issues throughout the coloured gemstone supply chain…we conducted an international survey on CSR policies of leading jewellers in the USA, UK and the Netherlands…not a single company returned the completed survey…[refers to Bijenkorf , Columbia Gem House, Cookson Group, Gemfields Resources, GemsTV , Siebel, Signet, Swarovski,Tanzanite One, Tiffany ,Wal-Mart]

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