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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Article
20 February 2018

CEO of Signet responds to Human Rights Watch report

Author: Professional Jeweller

Signet chief executive officer, Virginia C. Drosos, details how Signet strives to drive integrity in the global jewellery supply chain...

Signet believes that visibly leading in the area of responsible sourcing is essential for our success, and our industry’s growth. Customers want transparency. They respect integrity. They care about the story behind what they purchase.  We must respect that, and work together to give it to them.

As part of our efforts to take the lead in ensuring the integrity of the global jewellery supply chain, Signet created the award-winning Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocols.  Mandatory for all Signet suppliers, these Protocols incorporate best-in-class principles that ensure Signet is leading the continuous improvement in the integrity of the jewelry global supply chain with an emphasis on transparency and the protection of human rights...

In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, Signet and other members of the jewelry industry engaged openly and extensively with HRW. Unfortunately, the report contains language chosen more to criticize our industry rather than provide constructive recommendations.

In particular, we believe HRW’s assessment of the RJC standards is incorrect. We would welcome HRW to engage more constructively with the RJC and other participants in the jewelry industry.

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Company response
19 February 2018

Response by Signet

Author: Signet

As part of our efforts to take the lead in ensuring the integrity of the global jewellery supply chain, Signet created the award-winning Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocols. Mandatory for all Signet suppliers, these Protocols incorporate best-in-class principles that ensure Signet is leading the continuous improvement in the integrity of the jewelry global supply chain with an emphasis on transparency and the protection of human rights.   

Certified Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) membership is also a requirement for all Signet jewellery suppliers. RJC membership reinforces Signet’s industry leadership position on responsible practices and requirements in the areas of human rights, health and safety, and labour practices throughout the global Signet supply chain. Recently, Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-profit organization, released a report on  “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry.”  In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, Signet and other members of the jewelry industry engaged openly and extensively with HRW.  Unfortunately, the report contains language chosen more to criticize our industry rather than provide constructive recommendations. In particular, we believe HRW’s assessment of the RJC standards is incorrect. We would welcome HRW to engage more constructively with the RJC and other participants in the jewelry industry.  Unwavering product integrity is fundamental for Signet - and we believe it should be for the entire industry.  Going forward, Signet urges everyone with a stake in our industry to join us in this diligent pursuit of excellence and transparency.

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Company response
19 February 2018

Response by Tiffany

Author: Tiffany

...Tiffany & Co. has long understood that responsibly sourcing precious metals and diamonds represents our greatest impact, and thus our greatest opportunity. While we recognize that challenges remain, we commend Human Rights Watch for its extensive analysis of this important issue, and are proud of the progress that has been achieved so far.
 
Tiffany & Co. is committed to reducing environmental impacts, respecting human rights and contributing in a positive way to the communities where we operate. We recognize that supply chains for diamonds, gemstones and precious metals can often be long, complex and opaque, which makes traceability a critical first step toward environmental and social responsibility. We have implemented a vertical integration model that gives us a strong chain of custody over raw materials, direct oversight of manufacturing for the majority of our jewelry, and a voice for improving global standards and conditions. We acquire the majority of our metals directly from mines that we know and from recycled sources. We source the majority of our diamonds as rough diamonds, directly from mines or from suppliers with a limited number of known mines...

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Company non-response
15 February 2018

Cartier did not respond

Author: Cartier

We invited Cartier to respond. They declined to comment.

Company non-response
15 February 2018

Harry Winston did not respond

Author: Harry Winston

We invited Harry Winston to comment. They declined to respond.

Company response
14 February 2018

Response by Pandora

Author: Pandora

We are happy to share with you our approach and professional efforts within the field of human rights:

  • We welcome the report from Human Rights Watch, and are pleased to see that our efforts in the area of human rights in supply chains are noted.
  • Responsible business practices have always been an integral part of our company. As one of the world’s largest jewellery companies, we contribute in raising the ethical standards of the industry and transparency within our own supply chain. We are committed to United Nations Guiding Principles for Businesses and Human Rights, and work actively to advance human rights on different levels of engagement.
  • PANDORA is deeply engaged in the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). The recent revision of the RJC Chain-of-Custody standard for gold, launched January 2018, was done by the Standards Setting Committee under the chairmanship of PANDORA. 

We released our Ethics Report 2017/18 recently where you will find detailed information and cases from our global business:  http://pandoragroup.com/CSR/Publications

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Company response
13 February 2018

Response by Chopard

Author: Chopard

The Maison Chopard declined to disclose any confidential information regarding its supply chain to Human Rights Watch given the fact that we already collaborate with major industry-wide accredited certification and verification bodies.

Chopard has a comprehensive sustainability program and is a certified member of the Responsible Jewellery Council. In 2013, we decided to go beyond this certification and took a further commitment towards responsible luxury. The first step of this ambitious initiative being the partnership with Alliance for Responsible Mining in helping artisanal gold miners to reach the Fairmined certification. As of today, Chopard is the largest buyer and supporter of the Fairmined Gold in the world.

  • This is a response from the following companies: Chopard
Article
8 February 2018

Behind the Shine: A Call to Action for the Jewelery Industry

Author: Human Rights Watch

The conditions under which gold and diamonds are mined can be brutal...

Jewelry companies are not doing enough to ensure they are sourcing responsibly, and many fail to publicly and transparently report on the due diligence efforts they say they undertake...

Jewelry companies can meet the demand for ethically sourced jewelry by putting responsibility and transparency at the heart of their business – and a few have already begun to do so...

We, the undersigned NGOs and trade unions, are calling upon the jewelry industry to turn its commitment to responsible sourcing into effective action.

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Report
8 February 2018

The Hidden Cost of Jewelry: Human Rights in Supply Chains and the Responsibility of Jewelry Companies

Author: Human Rights Watch

For millions of workers, gold and diamond mining is an important source of income. But the conditions under which gold and diamonds are mined can be brutal. Children have been injured and killed when working in small-scale gold or diamond mining pits. Indigenous peoples and other local residents near mines have been forcibly displaced. In war, civilians have suffered enormously as abusive armed groups have enriched themselves by exploiting gold and diamonds. Mines have polluted waterways and soil with toxic chemicals, harming the health and livelihoods of whole communities...

[J]ewelry companies have a responsibility to ensure that their businesses do not contribute to human rights abuses at any point in their supply chains...

In this report, Human Rights Watch scrutinizes steps taken by key actors within the jewelry industry to ensure that rights are respected in their gold and diamond supply chains. The report focuses on the policies and practices of 13 major jewelry brands, selected to include some of the industry’s largest and best-known jewelry and watch companies and to reflect different geographic markets: Boodles (United Kingdom), Bulgari (Italy), Cartier (France), Chopard (Switzerland), Christ (Germany), Harry Winston (United States), Kalyan (India), Pandora (Denmark), Rolex (Switzerland), Signet (United States-based parent company of Kay Jewelers and Zales in the US, Ernest Jones and H. Samuel in the UK, and other jewelers), Tanishq (India), Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri Ltd. (TBZ Ltd.)(India), and Tiffany and Co. (US)...

Our research found that most of the 13 jewelry companies we contacted directly recognize their human rights responsibilities and have made some efforts to responsibly source their gold and diamonds. However, their practices differ significantly... While these are promising signs, we found that most companies still fall short of meeting international standards.

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