Rising demand for ethical jewellery opens market for new companies (July 2011)

Jul 2011

By Ekobai Contributor, Fairtrade Market

Last month reported on the launch of Fairtrade's new standard for gold, which was showcased at the London Jewellery Week 2011. 

Since then the group Fair Jewelry Action and Lifeworth Consulting have published a report that benchmarks ten prestigious jewellery brands on their social and environmental performance, comparing their performance with innovations in the ethical sourcing of precious metal and gemstones, and finds the majority significantly lagging behind.

The research finds, for example, that six of the ten brands still offered to sell Burmese rubies from the shop floor in London and Geneva boutiques last year, despite an EU embargo.

The report, entitled Uplifting the Earth: the ethical performance of luxury jewellery brands, provides guidance on how brands can move beyond a negative risk management approach to their ethical considerations, and instead use social and environmental issues to make jewellery a positive force for all involved. Example of successful newer brands that embody a new approach to jewellery, including CRED Jewellery which is now using Fairtrafe/Fairmined ‘green’ gold, Fifi Bijoux, JEL and Brilliant Earth.

If, as the report suggests, top jewellery brands are failing to meet the growing expectations of customers for ethical sourcing of metals and gemstones, there may be greater opportunities for other new ethical jewellery brands to emerge. Plus the arrival of the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard makes sourcing ethical gold easier than ever before.

Elsewhere the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) recently joined the ISEAL Alliance as an Associate Member. This is an international not-for-profit organisation which brings together more than 310 member companies to promote responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices throughout the jewellery industry from mine to retail. The RJC’s remit covers diamonds and platinum metals jewellery products as well as gold.

As an Associate Member, RJC is committing to ISEAL’s mission and Code of Ethics. RJC will be audited for full compliance with the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice in standards setting and impacts evaluation within 12 months, in order to graduate to a Full Member of ISEAL, which will help establish it as the leading responsible standards system in the minerals and mining sector.

Further reading

The support of retailers key to increased supplies of Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold on the high street’ Fairtrade Foundation Press Release, 28th June 2011

Uplifting the Earth: the ethical performance of luxury jewellery brandsFair Jewelry Action and Lifeworth Consultancy, July 2011


The high-profile brands benchmarked in the report Fair Jewelry Action/Lifeworth report are: Boucheron, Bulgari, Buccellati, Cartier, Chanel, Chopard, Graff Diamonds, Harry Winston, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels. 

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