RAPAPORT… Jewelry retailers in the United Kingdom fall short of helping British consumers understand in-store policies on a diamond’s origin, according to a survey by Global Witness and Amnesty International. The organizations only inquired, however, with 42 retailers throughout the UK.
The survey results, released May 29, 2007, found 31 percent of those surveyed did not respond, and that 79 percent of 29 respondents reported having no auditing procedures in place to trace diamonds. The survey showed that most companies reported adhering to the diamond industry’s minimal systems of self-regulation, but that Signet (and subsidiaries Ernest Jones, H Samuel and Leslie Davis) and Tiffany & Co. reported going beyond the minimum industry standards and have put in place strong measures to verify that their diamonds are conflict free.
“After all the promises the diamond industry has made it is very disappointing to find that retailers here in the UK are still not taking the necessary steps to ensure the diamond supply chain is cleaned up from mine to shop counter,” said Amnesty International UK business and human rights campaigner Nick Dearden.
The organizations said the survey was released amid reports of continuing diamond smuggling and conflict diamonds from West Africa reaching the international diamond market. These reports come despite strong progress made in the region in adhering to Kimberley Process (KP) standards, marked by the recent readmission of Liberia to the community of diamond exporters.
The World Diamond Council recently reported at its annual conference in Jerusalem that less than 1 percent of all diamonds exported today could be counted as conflict diamonds and that the issue was only prevalent in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire.)
Global Witness representative Alex Yearsley cautioned at the meeting, however, that four KP member-countries should be closely monitored for their conflict diamond activity. Yearsley’s list included the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Venezuela.
Global Witness and Amnesty International UK called upon all sectors of the diamond industry, including the jewelry retail sector, to implement third-party audit measures and responsible sourcing policies, to help ensure that the industry is living up to its commitments to combat conflict diamonds:
They further noted that the UK, European Commission and governments need to enforce stronger oversight of the diamond industry and strengthen the enforcement of the KP and that jewelry retailers should make their policies on conflict diamonds prominently accessible on their websites.
“Given the devastating impact of conflict diamonds, consumers have a right to demand adequate assurances that the diamonds they buy are conflict-free,” said Global Witness campaigner Annie Dunnebacke.
The two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducted a similar survey in the United States during December 2006, which included 37 retailers.
Amnesty International UK and Global Witness last year published a special shoppers guide to diamonds, freely available at www.globalwitness.org.