– Chaim Even-Zohar, one of the most prominent, respected journalists in the jewelry trade press.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) website declares that its 350+ members are “committed to promoting responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices in a transparent and accountable manner throughout the industry from mine to retail.” These are noble sentiments. How to square them with Even-Zohar’s quote?
In short, the RJC is the jewelry and mining industries policing themselves to meet standards they developed themselves. The ethical imperative in today’s world requires an RJC different than the current one. It requires an RJC that:
Rephrased, the RJC needs to make bedrock principles of inclusivity, traceability, and transparency.
Chaim Even-Zohar’s critique suggests it may not be possible to have a real chain of custody in the mainstream diamond industry. It also demonstrates the RJC is losing support not just from path-breaking, fair trade, grassroots jewelers. It is losing support from larger, mainstream interests as well. To their credit, RJC will review their diamond supply chain proposal. But if the RJC is under review, let’s make it thorough. For RJC to find the credibility that it wants, RJC NEEDS support and engagement from civil society organizations.
Currently there is zero civil society representation on the RJC board or at any stage in the RJC process. Without it, the RJC will continue to cede leadership in ethical sourcing to other organizations that represent the authentic movement in ethical sourcing, such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, Alliance for Responsible Mining, Ethical Metalsmiths, Fair Labeling Organization, and my organization of over forty members, Fair Jewelry Action.
But many jewelers, including myself, want the RJC to work—just like we wanted the Kimberley Process to keep conflict diamonds out of the marketplace to work. Yet like the failed Kimberley Process, I am concerned that and the RJC may have structural flaws that prevent its credibility outside of its own houses of mirrors.
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