Information on the key issues in the jewellery industry are often unclear because of the vast amount of initiatives that have surfaced in response to these issues. Below is a break down of the major initiatives,campaigns and organisations that contribute to making the industry more responsible.
The Alliance for Responsible Mining is a non-profit organisation that works for the sustainable development of artisanal and small-scale mining in Latin America, Africa and Asia. They do this through standards writing, monitoring, providing certifications to complying small-scale mines, establishing and facilitating supply of responsible gold to the market and supporting small-scale miners towards sustainable development.
Canadian based not-for-profit organisation that works to help the Artisanal Gold Mining Sector become formalized, more environmentally sound and socially responsible. They have an integrated approach of grass roots projects and bridge building work with national and international policy. Throughout their work they focus on the following strategic areas: improved practices, governance, livelihoods, health, environment, gender equality, market access and development. Crucially, their projects largely involve implementing systems and strategies to reduce the use and release of mercury by artisanal gold miners. They also publish reports and articles on the artisanal small scale mining sector. Accessible here.
In benefit of the millions of artisanal and small-scale miners worldwide, this archive has replaced what was previously the Communities and Small-scale Mining (CASM) initiative which is now defunct. As a way to ‘recover’ the many lost documents that were hosted on the previous CASM website and to continue the sharing of knowledge on artisanal small scale mining, the Artisanal Small-scale Mining Knowledge Sharing Archive aims to contribute to and collaborate with global ASM knowledge hub initiatives.
US based not-for-profit organisation that unites supply chain actors with government and civil society to transform artisanal mining into a source of sustainable development. The initiative was created to address the social and economic issues faced by artisanal diamond miners in Africa and South America and to address what the Kimberly Process does not. The DDI helps mines formalise into mining associations, providing training on governance and certifies mines that are in compliance with their Maendeleo Diamond Standards. The DDI also implement projects to improve the sector and provide development support for the mining community. The initiative also has a Canadian arm, DDI Canada.
Non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions. EARTHWORKS has written a series of reports on mining and how the jewellery industry has fallen short.
A membership based platform for both brands and suppliers of sustainable fashion. The Ethical Fashion Forum runs a sustainable brand showcase publishing brand and retailer look books as well as a showcase of their sustainable supplier members. The Ethical Fashion Forum has also created an online platform called Common Objective, which matches members with people and resources to help them succeed as a sustainable brand.
The Ethical Metalsmiths is a US based group, affiliated with EARTHWORKS, that has been leading the way in raising awareness of material sourcing issues and harmful studio practices. Through their projects, exhibitions and conferences, the Ethical Metalsmiths aim to lead jewellers and consumers in becoming informed activists for responsible mining, sustainable economic development and verified, ethical sources of materials used in making jewellery. Their Radical Jewelry Makeover project is an ongoing community recycling project in which volunteer jewelers transform recycled donated jewelry into new designs that are exhibited and sold to benefit Ethical Metalsmiths’ mission. The Ethical Metalsmiths student committee, in charge of student outreach, runs an annual online international student exhibition and an emerging artist award. For entry information on the online exhibition and artist award see here.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights. All corporate members of the ETI agree to adopt the ETI Base Code of labour practice which is based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards. The ETI’s issues section of their website features reports and resources on critical areas of concern in the ethics of trade including women workers rights, child labour and modern slavery.
Fair Jewellery Action (FJA)
The Fair Jewellery Action is a human rights and environmental justice network within the jewellery sector that promotes ethical and fair trade jewellery practices. Founded by Marc Choyt and Greg Valerio, two jewellery activists, in 2009, the FJA promotes ethical jewellery practices by advocating for initiatives such as the Greenland Ruby campaign and Fairtrade Gold and demonstrating traceability and transparency in the jewelry supply chain. FJA’s objective is to direct more of the wealth creation of the jewellery sector toward regenerative local economies in small-scale artisan producer communities.
Fairmined is an assurance label that has written a standard for and provides certifications to artisanal small scale gold mining organisations that employ responsible mining practices. The Fairmined initiative was created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, a leading initiative for the sustainable development of small-scale mining that has helped establish the supply of responsible gold to the market. Jewellers can register to become Fairmined licensees and depending on the license type, may qualify to have their finished jewellery marked with the Fairmined hallmark, available at all four assay offices in the UK. To learn about becoming a Fairmined licensee and using Fairmined metals see our Fairmined page.
Under the Fairtrade Foundation, the Fairtrade Gold program certifies artisanal small-scale gold mines that employ responsible mining practices and that comply with the Fairtrade Gold standard. Jewellers can register to be a Fairtrade Gold licensee to source Fairtrade metals and depending on the license type, may qualify to have their finished jewellery marked with the Fairtrade hallmark, available at all four assay offices in the UK. To learn about becoming a Fairtrade licensee and using Fairtrade metals see our Fairtrade Page.
FLUX stands for Fair Luxury. They are an independent group of makers and ethical jewellery leaders, based in the UK helping to share their knowledge about ethical making through events and an annual conference. See our Opportunities page for more information on the FLUX conference.
A not-for-profit campaign that investigates and exposes environmental and human rights abuses caused by the exploitation of natural resources and irresponsible governance of extractive industries by the global political and economic system. They work with international partners to demand accountability for corruption and abuse of power. Global Witness annual reports can be read here and their reports specific to conflict diamonds and conflict minerals, here.
Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organisation. They publish more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions around the world every year. HMR have published many critical reports about human rights abuses in mining industries.
Human Rights Watch Reports
The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance is an assurance label for responsible industrial-scale mining. IRMA also collaborates with initiatives for responsible small-scale and artisanal mining as well as sustainability standards initiatives for the wider extractives sector such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council, though their focus is on industrial mining of precious metals.
Jewelry Industry Summit Forum on Sustainability & Responsible Sourcing in the Jewelry Industry
The Jewelry Industry Summit is an initiative that works to advance the responsible jewelry movement by uniting the industry through annual summits about how to unite the industry and move forward. The Jewelry Industry Summits encourage collaboration across the sector with the goal of creating awareness, addressing the challenges and developing strategies, initiatives and tools for creating a sustainable jewellery industry.
The Jeweltree foundation is an independent, third-party certifier of supply chain transparency, social responsibility, and ecological sustainability in support of small scale mining initiatives in developing countries. Jeweltree supports small scale miners of both precious metals and stones by certifying and promoting their products, assisting them in getting the highest possible market price and where possible, additional premiums. They work to increase supply chain transparency by promoting best practice standards within the industry and by partnering with initiatives to increase responsibility in the industry.
Levin Sources is a consultancy and social venture that increases the volume of minerals moving through systems where good governance and better business practices are established. Working in more than 50 countries worldwide, Levin Sources provides services and advice to mining companies, governments, NGOs and donors to enhance their engagement with artisanal small-scale miners to optimise better business practices. Levin Sources publish their reports on the impacts of better business in mining.
Levin Sources Reports
ASM-Pace Global Solutions Study – the aim of this report is to summarise the scope and scale of ASM in protected areas and critical ecosystems worldwide, describe its known effects, document and study attempted solutions, and offer an initial set of recommendations.
Australian based civil society organisation that assists mining affected communities in protecting their rights and responding to the negative impacts of mining.
Mining Watch Canada is an initiative that brings together environmental, social justice, Indigenous and labour organisations across Canada to campaign for action in response to threats caused by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world. Their annual reports can be found here.
No Dirty Gold is an international campaign by EARTHWORKS that works to ensure gold mining operations respect human rights and the environment by educating about the impacts of irresponsible gold mining and lobbying support to persuade the gold mining industry to make positive changes in their practices. No Dirty Gold has also produced the Golden Rules Campaign, a set of social, human rights, and environmental criteria for more responsible mining of gold and precious metals.
PAC collaborates with initiatives and groups around the world to promote policy dialogue and solutions for sustainable development in Africa and better governance of natural resource extraction. PAC has been active for 30 years, they were instrumental in the establishment of the Kimberly Process and have written many reports and other publications on conflict diamonds, conflict minerals and supply chain transparency in Canada.
The Dodd-Frank Act is a US federal law that was instated to audit the trade of conflict minerals and to protect consumers from the presence of stones on the market that are related to crimes.
Swedwatch is an independent, non-profit organisation reporting on Swedish business relations in developing countries, focusing on social and environmental concerns. They have published reports on gold, diamond and platinum mining.
Swiss Better Gold Association is a non-profit association that aims to stabilise the market for responsibly mined gold from artisanal small scale mines by creating a market driven mechanism that enables formalised gold mining entities to adopt more socially inclusive and better environmental practices. The SBGA enables mine compliance with private voluntary standards & best practice (such as the Fairmined standard, the Fairtrade Standard or the the Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices) by facilitating access to capital and providing market access.
The Kimberly Process emerged twenty years ago with the aim of eradicating conflict diamonds from the market. It was a UN global initiative for the exchange of diamonds
The Kimberly Process has been criticised as being systematically problematic because it does not address other kinds of violence that occur in the trading of diamonds. Essentially, the Kimberly Process is a customs and exchange procedure, which is important because removing stones that have been used to finance violence from the market is a critical step in the movement to a more ethical jewellery industry however, diamonds that are Kimberly Process certified do not certify they are ‘conflict free’ because the certification process does not address other forms of violence related to the diamond trade. The many examples of human rights issues that have occurred due to corrupt governments and dictatorships where diamonds are mined around the world, are proof of this.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an organisation with the aim of “promoting policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.”
Most critically for the jewellery industry, the OECD has a set of due diligence guidelines called the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict Affected and High-Risk Areas. The guideline aims to help companies respect human rights, observe and respect applicable international humanitarian laws in situations of armed conflict, avoid contributing to conflict and cultivate transparent mineral supply chains and sustainable corporate engagement in the mineral sector. * For the overview and current edition of the OECD Guidelines see here.
The Due Diligence Guidelines were originally an optional guidance document for businesses but became the bases for the EU initiative, the Institute for Responsible Mining Assurance; the UK initiative, the Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody Certification and the US legal framework, the Dodd-Frank act. The Guidance document has therefore come to be the basis for a major section of the international trade of precious metals and stones.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is a standards setting and certification organisation that was established to manage gold and diamonds in the jewellery sector in 2004. The RJC’s Code of Practices, is a standard for responsible business practices in the jewellery industry and their Chain of Custody Certification is for precious metals (gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium). The system outlines requirements for certified companies to have policies in their business models to deal with ‘conflict sensitive sourcing practices’. For more information and current documents on the RJC Code of Practices and the Chain of Custody Certification see here.
The RJC has been scrutinised for its government and the strength of compliance members of held to. It has been argued, that RJC membership should not be regarded as strong assurance of responsible practice, on its own. Readers may consult the recent Human Rights Watch Report on Jewelry Company accountability for this perspective.
A network that works to improve the mining industry in the US and Canada. With over 300 diverse organisations, including Indigenous, conservation, and public interest groups, WMAN provides opportunities for groups to work together and limit the adverse impacts of the mining industry in the US and Canada.
Image Credit: Ute Decker