Report by Human Rights Watch alleges labour rights abuses & child labour in gold & diamond supply chains of global jewellery brands; incl. co responses

The report “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry” by Human Rights Watch documents labour rights violations, child labour and poor working conditions caused by toxic chemicals in gold and diamond supply chains of global jewellery brands. The report scrutinizes steps taken by key actors in the jewellery industry to ensure that rights are respected in their supply chains and focuses on the policies and practices of 13 major brands. While some jewellery companies are actively working to identify and address human rights risks, Human Rights Watch found that most companies still fall short of meeting international standards. Human Rights Watch is also actively calling on the industry to put in place robust supply chain policies and to establish effective human rights assessment tools to improve human and labour rights conditions.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the 13 brands named in the report to comment, of which seven sent us a statement: Boodle & Dunthorne, Bulgari, Chopard, Pandora, Rolex, Signet and Tiffany. Their responses are provided below.

Two companies declined to comment: Cartier and Harry Winston. 

CHRIST, Kalyan Jewellers, TBZ and Tanishq did not respond to our invitation.

We will update this story if we receive any additional responses from companies.

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7 September 2018

Human Rights Watch reflects on increasing co efforts to assess human rights risks in supply chains after Intl. Jewellery London event

Author: Juliane Kippenberg & Komala Ramachandra, Human Rights Watch

"What Does It Take To Be A Responsible Jeweller?", 5 September 2018

Gold mining has been tainted by serious human rights abuses, including child labor, deadly working conditions, forced evictions, and harmful pollution... We have also investigated how jewelry companies are trying to avoid contributing to human rights abuses in their gold and diamond supply chains. We recently took a closer look at 13 leading jewellery brands, with a combined annual revenue of over £20 billion... There are a few leading companies among those we examined. Tiffany & Co. stands out for its ability to track its gold back to the mine, and for its thorough assessments of human rights impacts. UK jeweler Boodles has pledged to take steps to better assess its supply chain and to revising and expanding its code of conduct for diamond and gold suppliers... A number of small jewellers in the UK have formed a group called Fair Luxury, or FLUX, with the goal of promoting responsible sourcing from rights-respecting mines. Many FLUX members source their gold from Fairtrade or “Fairmined” certified mines, which go further than other voluntary standards to oblige mines to respect clearly defined labor rights requirements and monitors conditions regularly for compliance...

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23 March 2018

Human Rights Watch calls on jewellery co's to disclose their supply chains ahead of Baselworld Fair

Author: Human Rights Watch

"Jewelry, Watch Firms Should Reveal Sources at Baselworld Fair", 20 March 2018

Jewelry and watch companies exhibiting at the Baselworld jewelry and watch fair should disclose their sourcing practices and supply chains, Human Rights Watch said today. Baselworld, one of the world’ largest jewelry and watch fairs, will take place from March 22 to 27, 2018 in the Swiss city of Basel...

Human Rights Watch recently scrutinized the gold and diamond sourcing policies and practices of 13 well-known jewelry brands. It found that most companies do not do enough to trace their gold and diamonds back to the mines of origin, address human rights concerns in their supply chains, and share information with the public about their supply chains and efforts to source responsibly. It also found that many jewelers rely on their certification by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), an industry body with weak standards and an audit process that lacks transparency...

Human Rights Watch and 28 nongovernmental organizations and trade unions have also jointly published a Call to Action for the jewelry industry, calling for robust human rights safeguards in their supply chains. In addition, Human Rights Watch has a digital campaign, #BehindTheBling, calling on jewelers to adopt responsible sourcing policies and practices.

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9 March 2018

Commentary: Human rights questions jewellers should answer ahead of Mother's Day

Author: Juliane Kippenberg, Human Rights Watch

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the UK, and many people will be heading to the nearest high street to buy their mum a nice piece of jewellery.

But before buying a necklace or bracelet, we want people to ask their jeweller: Where does this gold or diamond come from? And what have you, as a jeweller, done to find out about any human rights abuses where it was mined?

The conditions under which gold and diamonds are mined can be brutal. Human Rights Watch has documented how children have been injured and killed mining precious minerals; how civilians have suffered in war as armed groups have enriched themselves through mining; and how communities have been poisoned by mines emitting toxic chemicals...

We found that companies’ jewellers often cannot identify where their gold and diamonds originate and rely on the assurances of their suppliers that their gold and diamonds are free of human rights abuses, without verifying these claims. In many cases, companies also fail to publish information on their sourcing practices...

Jewellery companies should ensure they have traceable, transparent supply chains that are regularly checked for human rights abuses.

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Company non-response
27 February 2018

CHRIST did not respond

Author: CHRIST

Company response
26 February 2018

Response by Bvlgari

Author: Bvlgari

As an acknowledged socially responsible Company, Bvlgari remains committed to continuing our mission to drive improvement in responsible behaviour across the jewellery industry. Our standards are internationally recognized and keep improving to advance the cause of responsible business practices in the industry. As it relates to the Human Right Watch ranking of a group of jewellers, including Bvlgari, Bvlgari maintains its commitment to ethical best practice in the industry, driven by its own Code of Ethics and according to OECD guidelines, monitoring the supply chain of gold through the Chain of Custody Certification and using Kimberly Process for diamonds in a continuous improvement process.

Since 2006, the Company has been an active member of the steering committee of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), which sets international standards on responsible business practices, including human and labor rights, environmental impact and mining practices for diamonds, gold and platinum...

Moreover, Bvlgari, together with LVMH, actively takes part in the DragonFly Initiative, The Dragonfly Initiative (TDI) is a sustainability advisory firm established to enable businesses in the natural resources, precious metals and gemstones supply chains to work collaboratively in creating an environmentally, socially and financially responsible system of connected enterprises...

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Company response
26 February 2018

Response by Rolex

Author: Rolex

Good evening,

I’m coming back to you following your phone call regarding the Human Rights Watch report. Rolex does not provide information on its gold and diamond supply chain, which is why the brand is not classified in the report. This does not imply that our materials are untraceable – quite the opposite.

With our best regards.

Company response
23 February 2018

Response by Boodle & Dunthorne

Author: Boodle & Dunthorne

As a family-run business, and boutique player in the UK and international market, Boodles has historically relied on our trusted suppliers to identify and mitigate against human rights risks. We recognise, however, that there is more we can do to ensure our suppliers are sourcing materials in an ethical and sustainable manner, aligned with our values of integrity and honesty instilled across Boodles since our inception in 1798.

Since Human Rights Watch approached us in March 2017, we have engaged in several open and constructive discussions about our supply chain. We have also taken important steps to ensure ongoing ethical materials sourcing, such as revising our Vendor Agreement and Code of Conduct to make sure they remain robust and fit for purpose. These will now require requiring all regular vendors to undertake comprehensive third-party audits and share these results with Boodles for review. We are also committed to greater transparency – our Code of Conduct will be shared publicly on our website, as will our first Sustainability Report (anticipated for 2019) detailing current compliance, development areas and proposed next steps.

Boodles is committed to ensuring ethical and sustainable sourcing of materials, and we will continue to review our procedures to ensure they reflect industry best practice.

Company non-response
21 February 2018

Kalyan Jewellers did not respond

Author: Kalyan Jewellers

Company non-response
21 February 2018

Tanishq did not respond

Author: Tanishq

Company non-response
21 February 2018

TBZ did not respond

Author: TBZ