‘Day of Action’ Mostly a Lot of Talk

An NGO “Day of Action” to test industry compliance with the Kimberley Process didn’t have much impact, industry leaders said.

NGOs Amnesty International and Global Witness announced that, on Sept. 18, activists would visit retailers to gauge compliance with the industry’s scheme for regulating conflict diamonds.

But according to Jewelers of America assistant director David Rocha, very few jewelers actually were visited.

“It seemed to be mostly major chains and department stores,” Rocha says. “We haven’t heard from any independents who got a visit, and most of the moderate-sized chains did not get hit.” Amy O’Meara, program associate with Amnesty USA, says that her group had collected more than 250 surveys, but she couldn’t reveal the results at press time. She says the Amnesty activists targeted mostly mass merchants and department stores and asked general questions about the salespersons’ familiarity with the system of warranties and the Kimberley Process. The “Day of Action” came after a Global Witness survey found many jewelry salespeople unable to respond to queries about conflict diamonds. (See “Industry Hits Back at NGO Report,” JCK, June 2004, p. 20).

Prior to Sept. 18, a JA statement warned retailers that “it is imperative to respond promptly to questions from NGOs, media, or consumers about conflict diamonds as well as other social, ethical, and environmental issues.… Responses to any inquiry should be positive, indicating a commitment to ethical business practices and a strong belief in corporate social responsibility.

“If questioned about conflict diamonds, JA said, retailers should show support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for rough diamonds. “Retailers also should explain that, in order to provide consumers with added confidence in their merchandise, they require written assurances of adherence to the Kimberley Process warranty system from their diamond and diamond jewelry suppliers.”

JA also noted all jewelers should require “conflict-free” warranties from suppliers, even if they are not contacted by this campaign.