Press Release: With this week’s announcement that Global Witness has removed itself from the Kimberley Process, U.K. jewelers are seeking answers to why contentious diamonds remain at the forefront of news as they enter the critical festive retail period.
The decision in November by the Kimberley Process to allow exports of diamonds from certain mines in Zimbabwe rocked the international diamond industry. U.K. jewelers expressed concern over that decision and subsequently many have sought more assurances from their dealers on the provenance of the goods being imported.
Global Witness was among the founding bodies of the Kimberley Process and their departure from future dialogue marks a significant shift in confidence that the process may not be ”fit for purpose” in current global politics.
In May of this year, Global Witness met with the U.K.’s largest trade bodies; the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) who represent over 2,500 jewelry retailers and the British Jeweller’s Association (BJA), who’s 1,000 members belong to manufacturing, trade and wholesale within the industry. The NAG and BJA formed a special ethics committee in March 2011, tasked with consulting between key U.K. and international trade and NGO bodies, as well as with the government.
Global Witness gave valuable information about the current crisis in Zimbabwe and discussed the Kimberley Process objectives. They expressed frustration that finding representatives of the artisanal miners was proving particularly difficult and it was clear that ensuring a balanced outcome for the diamond miners of Zimbabwe was going to be extremely challenging.
However, despite the withdrawal of Global Witness from the Kimberley Process, the ethics committee maintains that the U.K. jewelry industry will continue to seek resolutions from the World Diamond Council on the matter and in the meantime recommend jewelers and retailers remain cautious about the origin of their diamonds.
Michael Hoare, the chief executive of NAG, said, ”It’s important to retain consumer confidence in British made jewelry. The creation of the ethics committee is a commitment to effecting positive changes for the jewelry industry and ensuring that a regular dialogue between all parties is maintained.”
The BJA and NAG have long advocated their memberships take every reasonable precaution in diligently checking the provenance of the diamonds used in British made jewelry. Today, the ethics committee announced an evaluation of the U.K. response to the recent developments and will assess concrete steps which jewelers can take to protect their integrity from the Zimbabwe stones, which have attracted the Blood Diamonds label by Kimberley Process critics.
The value of understanding the intricate supply chains in U.K. jewelry manufacture extends into all aspects of diamonds, colored gems and precious metals.
In recent months the ethics committee met with the Fairtrade Foundation and the London Bullion Market Exchange, where current standards to ensure best practice in both newly mined and refined or recycled gold were examined.
Simon Rainer, the chief executive of BJA, said, ”The U.K. industry is at the forefront of traceability; working towards the creation of recognizable standards to define transparency in the jewelry supply chain.”
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