‘Responsible Jewellery’ Group Releases Ethical Code

The Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices has released an extensive list of ethical, social, and environmental practices its members must comply with.

All members of the group, now called the Responsible Jewellery Council, will be audited by third parties to verify compliancewith the code, which can beseen on the group’s Web site, www.responsiblejewellery.com. The name change will be accompanied by a new logo.

“This is obviously a very ambitious system,” says RJC chairman Matthew A. Runci, also president and chief executive officer of Jewelers of America. “We now transition from being a research and development organization to being an operating organization.”

Runci said the group, now composed mostly of big players like De Beers and Zale, will start to recruit new members, including smaller independent jewelers. He notes it’s looking at ways to reduce the cost of compliance for smaller companies.

The people behind the group say environmental and related issues may not be the trade’s biggest problem right now, but they cannot be ignored. “I think the green agenda has gained strength over the past two or three years,” notes Tiffany chairman Michael Kowalski, a member of the group’s board of directors. “I sense a rising tide of consumer knowledge. People want to know more, and the RJC will provide those assurances.”

“As you read the code of practices, they are all common sense,” says Robert Headley, Tiffany’s vice president of technical services and chair of the RJC standards committee. “They are things like we don’t offer bribes. We don’t employ children. Imagine yourself not in the industry. You would say ‘Of course.’ Consumers expect retailers to do the right thing.”

Runci notes that being a RJC member could serve as “point of differentiation” for companies, and adds, “It will also be a point of differentiation between our industry and other industries that have not been so thorough.”

The new code’s “Mining Supplement” is still undergoing a public consultation process and is expected to be finalized in March. The group also appointed Mila Bonini its new communications manager. Bonini previously held a senior communications role with the World Jewellery Confederation.