Diamonds / Industry

Alrosa Suspends Membership In Responsible Jewellery Council


Alrosa has suspended its membership in the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), in yet more fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Alrosa’s self-suspension presumably means it is no longer a certified member, though Alrosa told JCK to “address the RJC on this.” The RJC did not return a request for comment on that issue by the time of publication.

RJC’s certification of the Russian diamond miner, which is one-third owned by the Russian government, had been a point of contention within the group, sparking the resignation of its executive director as well as three prominent members: Pandora, Richemont, and Kering.

An RJC statement said its board had voted to accept the suspension.

“[A]t the beginning of this invasion, we began a thorough legal review to ensure due process was followed to maintain the integrity of the RJC governance on behalf of its more than 1,500 members,” said chairman David Bouffard in the statement.

It said that the legal opinion was delayed by the implementing of U.S. and U.K. sanctions, but it was delivered to the board this week. It did not specify the nature of that opinion.

“Taking any action prior to the delivery of the legal opinion would have exposed the RJC to significant legal risk,” the statement said.

As a highly regarded and independent organization, we take our governance very seriously,” added Bouffard in the statement.  “Fundamentally, we remain focused on RJC’s purpose, which is to ensure jewelry is responsibly sourced. Our actions and due diligence reflect our commitment to that purpose.”

In a statement, Alrosa said the move was made due to “the current unprecedented realities” and called itself a “company that cares for the industry as much as it cares for its mining communities.

“[We will] continue to uphold our highest standards of responsible business conduct and business ethics that are an integral part of our culture and principles,” it said. “We have always stayed up front on the sustainability agenda in diamond mining with clear vision as to our responsibilities to the communities and the regions of our operations, as well as how we run our business with our suppliers and clients. Our industry commitments are here to stay, as our full support to the RJC’s mission.”

On Friday, at the Watches & Wonders show in Geneva, Richemont and Kering updated the trade on the Watches and Jewelry Initiative 2030, the sustainability initiative the two groups founded six months ago with the RJC. For the moment, the RJC is not involved, said a Kering spokesperson.

“The WJI2030 was cofounded by Cartier and Kering six months ago,” the spokesperson said. “The RJC was a support partner that was chosen to play a transversal role. Since Cartier and Kering left the RJC, it [won’t] play a role in the WJI2030 any longer until further developments.”

The group also announced that Chanel Horlogerie Joaillerie, Montblanc, Rosy Blue, and Swarovski have joined the initiative, which its founders discussed here.

Alrosa, which was sanctioned last week by the government in the United Kingdom, has also suspended its membership in the Natural Diamond Council and plans to close its U.S. office.

This story has been updated with the statement from the Responsible Jewellery Council.

Top: Alrosa’s diamonds (photo courtesy of Alrosa)

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By: Rob Bates

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