Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC) executive director Andrew Bone (pictured) says that he’s stepping down from that position because it was “time to close the chapter” after four years at the group’s helm.
“When I came on, I figured that it would be about three to five years,” says Bone, who will officially leave the group in March. “So this will be about four.”
While he says that “others will be the ultimate judge” of his record at RJC, he feels “satisfied” that he accomplished what he was enlisted to do.
“We have gone from five to 15 employees. We’ve improved the finances and been through two reviews of the standards. We have doubled membership. And now it’s time to hand it over to someone who will take it to the next chapter.”
While NGO Human Rights Watch has recently criticized the industry’s sourcing protocols, and the trade has just weathered a wave of scandals, Bone feels the existence of groups like the RJC shows that the business has changed quite a bit.
“It’s a progression, it’s an evolutionary exercise,” he says. “But I feel we are moving in the right direction. A lot of it is about culture. We have come so far, This industry is hundreds of years old, and yet, 20 years ago, none of this [groups like the RJC] existed. There is a lot less tolerance for behavior that brings the industry into disrepute.
“I see it as a bit like a caravan in the desert. Some are at the front end of the caravan and maybe at the [back] end there are a few that aren’t moving quite as fast. But the real important thing is that we are moving in the same direction.”
In 2015, Bone retired from De Beers after more than three decades with the company. Shortly afterward, he took over the RJC. Bone says he doesn’t know if he’s ready to retire fully this time.
“Never say never. I’m looking at any other opportunities that are out there. There is something about his industry that is so wonderful and seductive, it does get into your blood and is difficult to walk away from.”
(Photo courtesy of the Responsible Jewellery Council)