RJC Will Look at Supply Chains



The Responsible Jewellery Council
is looking into whether it can certify its members’ "supply chains," group CEO Michael Rae told JCK.

Last week, the RJC released
its first-ever
certification system
. Independent third parties will audit the group’s
members for compliance with the RJC’s code of ethical, social and environmental
practices.

The RJC has been criticized
by NGOs and the bloggers at fairjewelry.org,
who say the group needs to insure its members have clean supply chains.

Rae admitted it is unlikely
that the group will ever require a certified supply chain, but said that the RJC
may be able to certify members’ supply chains on an individual basis.

"We are not looking at
forming our own chain of custody audit system," Rae said. "But what we want to
look at over the course of 2010 is: What are the characteristics of those
systems that make them credible? Is it possible to certify a credible system
like the Wal Mart "Love, Earth"
system?"

He said the group will use
the Forest Stewardship Council as a model. The group’s insignia guarantees that
wood came from a well-managed forest.

What the RJC doesn’t want to
do, Rae said, is force members to buy from each other.

"That raises the anti-trust
issue," he said. "We don’t want to set up a buying cartel."

But he notes that several big
companies are already requiring that suppliers become RJC-certified, including
miner BHP.

With the launch of the new
system, RJC members, with the exception of miners, now have until the end of
2011 to get their businesses certified by RJC’s chosen auditors. Miners have
until 2012. The group is now receiving applications from auditors.

"I think most of our members
will, in fact, pass," Rae said. "The jewelry industry should be commended for
this system. There is nothing like it in any other industry."