JA Adopts ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’

Jewelers of America (JA) has formally adopted a “Supplier Code of Conduct,” the association said in a statement.

This new document was adopted by the JA board of directors in January 2004 as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen consumer confidence in jewelers and to support its long-term commitment to developing a framework for social, ethical, and environmental responsibility, the association said. In 2002, the JA board of directors adopted a revised mission statement and a comprehensive “Statement of Principles.”

“The JA Statement of Principles is now backed by the JA Supplier Code of Conduct,” said Matthew A. Runci, president/CEO of JA. “This new document addresses consumer concerns over issues such as labor practices—child labor and health and safety regulations—and the environmental impact of minerals extraction associated with jewelry and gemstone production.”

Runci said it became apparent that the public’s expectations concerning consumer goods and the retailers that sell them were changing. Some jewelry customers were beginning to inquire about issues of social responsibility, in addition to seeking traditional assurances about carat weight, gemstone treatments, brand authenticity, and return and service policies. Consumers began to ask not only about the practices of retail jewelers but also about the practices of companies back up the supply chain, including factories and mines.

As a result, said Runci, “Trade relationships between retail jewelers and their vendors will require a more explicit and secure foundation for trust than perhaps traditional industry practices have required in many cases.”

A committee of member jewelers chaired by Signet CEO Terry Burman worked with a team of “sustainability specialists” at PricewaterhouseCoopers to help evaluate the issues confronting the jewelry and gemstones industry; the social, ethical and environmental risks associated with these issues; and what JA could do to manage these risks on behalf of its retail jewelry members. The association also held discussions with industry and NGO/advocacy representatives.

Runci said the committee will continue its work by issuing recommendations to its members on how to implement the code and through consultations with groups representing key components of the supply chain.

Additional information is available on the JA Web site at www.jewelers.org.