NGOs Say Jewelers Fail Conflict Diamond Survey

The American jewelry retail industry is failing to take adequate measures to help consumers avoid conflict diamonds, according to a survey of jewelers by non-governmental groups Amnesty International USA and Global Witness.

A total of 37 jewelry retailers were surveyed between December 2006 and February 2007, the NGOs say. Among the findings:

* Half of these jewelry retailers failed to respond to the requests to provide information about their policies on conflict diamonds.

* Fifty six percent of those who did respond reported having no auditing procedures in place to combat conflict diamonds, despite the recommendation to do so by Jewelers of America.

* Fifty seven percent of the top jewelers do not have any public information posted on their Web sites about their policies on conflict diamonds.

The survey also noted that a few industry leaders such as Helzberg Diamonds, Sterling Jewelers, and Tiffany & Co. have taken stronger measures to combat conflict diamonds, including third-party auditing.

“Americans buy half of the diamond jewelry sold worldwide—$33 billion a year in U.S. sales,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “We feel that this industry has an obligation—and consumers should demand—that the diamonds that are bought and sold are conflict-free.”

“It is completely reasonable to demand that this industry give consumers adequate assurances that the diamonds they buy are conflict-free,” added Charmian Gooch, founding director of Global Witness. “With such huge profits, retailers should be willing to do more to solve this problem.”

Amnesty International and Global Witness are calling for the following action:

* All sectors of the diamond industry, including the diamond jewelry retail sector, should implement third-party audit measures and responsible sourcing policies.

* The U.S. and other governments should carry out stricter oversight of the diamond industry and strengthen and improve enforcement of the Kimberley Process and the Clean Diamond Trade Act.

* Jewelry retailers should make their policies on conflict diamonds prominently accessible on their Web sites.