This Valentine's season, 11 jewelry retailers announced their support for the No Dirty Gold campaign's Golden Rules criteria for more socially and environmentally responsible mining, bringing the total number of jewelry retailers supporting the criteria to 19. The list includes seven of the 10 largest U.S. retailers of jewelry, and represents about 22 percent of the country's total jewelry market, according to a statement by the campaign's organizers.
The companies added to the list this year are: Fred Meyer and Littman Jewelers, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Wal-Mart, QVC, Birks & Mayors, Commemorative Brands (parent company of Balfour, ArtCarved, and Keystone class rings brands), Brilliant Earth, Leber Jeweler, TurningPoint, Boscov's, and Michaels Jewelers.
"It is important for us as retail jewelers to do all practically in our power to adhere to the principles of the No Dirty Gold campaign," said Jonathan Bridge, co-CEO of Seattle-based Ben Bridge Jeweler. "It is the 'right thing to do' for our community, our customers, as well as the world environment."
Austin, Texas-based Commemorative Brands, manufacturers of Balfour, ArtCarved and Keystone class rings, is the first class rings company to sign onto the Golden Rules.
"Our primary customers-college and high school students-make up a generation firmly committed to supporting brands that take corporate social responsibility seriously," said Matt Gase, Commemorative Brand's General Manager. "By supporting the No Dirty Gold campaign's Golden Rules, we hope to reflect the values of the many students around the country who have a deep commitment to human rights and the environment."
Luxury jeweler Birks & Mayors became the first retailer based in Canada to sign onto the Golden Rules, motivated in part by the need to protect the ecological and cultural integrity of the Canadian Boreal Forest which is at risk from mining, according to the statement.
"By signing onto the Golden Rules, these jewelry retailers have burnished their reputations as industry leaders. Customers in Paris and mining-affected communities in Peru alike will take note of their support for improved mining practices," added Payal Sampat of environmental organization EARTHWORKS and co-director of the No Dirty Gold campaign.
In addition to retailers, More than 55,000 consumers worldwide have signed a pledge calling on jewelers and mining companies to provide an alternative to "dirty" gold, according to the campaign.
"The message from the jewelry industry is clear—there is an emerging consensus that 'dirty' gold will not be tolerated," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization and co-founder of the No Dirty Gold campaign.
The campaign also added the Target Corp. to its laggards list. In the eyes of the NGOs sponsoring the No Dirty Gold campaign, the Minnesota-based retailer has fallen behind by not making the same formal commitments, despite the campaign's repeated efforts to win the company's support.
No Dirty Gold activists across the country are calling Target stores to lobby the company on its gold sourcing policy. Many are also hosting house parties to send hand-made Valentines to Target chief executive officer Robert Ulrich, urging him to demonstrate the company's commitment to communities and the environment by signing on to the Golden Rules.
"Unfortunately, Target is still off the mark," said Offenheiser. "We urge Target to join industry leaders in formally committing to the human rights and environmental criteria outlined in the Golden Rules."