The industry should be "prepared" for an upcoming 60 Minutes segment that will likely spotlight how gold fuels conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, said Jewelers of America chairman Matthew A. Runci.
The show’s air date is unknown at press time.
Runci said that when he was interviewed by the program, he "came away absolutely convinced [the program] would be focused on gold and the Eastern DRC."
He noted that 60 Minutes Australia recently did a piece that focused on gold and the Congo.
He noted JA has put together materials for its members to address these issues, some of which are excerpted here.
"We don’t want to scare people, but we also felt we had a responsibility to have people understand what the issues are and what it could mean if consumers come into a jewelry shop with questions," he said.
He noted that, while most of the publicity on "conflict minerals" in the Congo has focused on non-jewelry items like coltan and tin, this report will likely raise the profile of the gold issue in Congo.
He added the report will likely feature horrific tales of rape and violence.
"I don’t want to ring the alarm bells," he said, "but our industry has been on a path like this before. We have all have seemed what was a momentary excursion turned into a rather long journey – one which changed the way many of us think about our businesses."
He noted his organization has learned from past issues, and his organization "will work with all the appropriate stakeholders to help support credible measures that can apply to the gold supply chain. There is no place in the jewelry supply for gold that is linked to violence against women or against anyone else."
Runci said he knows of one large retailer who was contacted by 60 Minutes with a request to name their gold suppliers. "They declined, saying it’s proprietary information," he said.
JCK was also approached by a research assistant, asking for the names of the largest jewelry suppliers in America, although this person said the show would be on the "gold rush" and didn’t mention any conflict-related issues.