Conflict diamonds - our guaranteeWe require our suppliers to ensure that the diamonds supplied to us have been purchased from legitimate sources, have not been involved in funding conflict and are supplied in compliance with United Nations resolutions. Our suppliers must guarantee that the diamonds are conflict-free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by their supplier.
What is the history?There has been coverage in the media of so-called “conflict diamonds”, namely diamonds mined in countries involved in civil war or other conflicts. Some diamonds are mined in areas controlled by war participants and are believed to help finance the conflict. These diamonds generally leak onto the world markets through unofficial channels and become mixed with those from the main producing countries. It is very important that this trade is stopped.
Like almost all retailers, the vast majority of the diamonds we sell come from the main diamond producing countries of South Africa, Russia and Botswana as well as Australia, Namibia and Canada. However many other countries also have deposits. These include states where there have been major conflicts such as Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone but also small producers such as Venezuela, Guyana and Ghana that usually have no such ethical problems. These are often poor countries with small economies that rely heavily on diamonds for crucial foreign income. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some formerly conflict affected countries (such as Angola) will need to make use of their natural resources if they are to successfully carry out the rebuilding that their people so desperately require.
What are the solutions?While it is clearly undesirable that diamonds from affected countries may be helping to exacerbate conflict, the problem for those down the line is identification. These diamonds constitute a very small proportion of those mined around the world (estimates suggest it peaked at around 4%) as they not only come from minor producers, but also these countries are generally mining below their capacity due to their political situation.
Schemes involving the certification of individual stones are unworkable due to the difficulty of identifying each stone and the cost of certification. For example, we may have a diamond ring that sells for £299 and contains 60 or so 1 point diamonds. It is unrealistic to expect all of these stones - costing less than £5 each - to be certificated (when certificates can cost £60 - £100 per stone). Also, such schemes would taint those diamonds without certificates already in circulation, when the overwhelming majority of these have no connection with conflict diamonds.
We also believe that it is crucial that the scheme does not impact on the diamond trade. Many of the countries involved in mining and cutting diamonds have low incomes per capita and millions of people rely on this legitimate trade for their livelihood. We therefore strongly believe that the Kimberley Process offers the best solution at present because it is strict yet workable. This allows for a more general system that requires those involved in the diamond supply chain to certify they only supply conflict free diamonds.
How does the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme work?The World Diamond Council has worked with the United Nations, government bodies, commercial interests and civil society to introduce a workable system for the certification of the source of uncut diamonds. This system, known as the Kimberley Process, was formally adopted in November 2002 and came into operation on January 1st 2003. The European Union regulations enforcing the Kimberley Process came fully into force on 13 February 2003. It operates on two fronts: -
i. Rough stones. Every parcel will be numbered, tamper-free and accompanied by a certificate with the country of origin and other details.
ii. Polished stones and jewellery. At the World Diamond Congress in London in October, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association agreed to instruct its members to give assurances that all diamonds sold by them (rough, cut and in finished goods) are conflict free.
We wrote to our diamond suppliers in August 2000 (well before the Kimberley Process was developed) requiring an undertaking with remarkably similar wording to the version that was actually adopted but, following its adoption, we sent a further letter to all suppliers relating to the Kimberley Process. We require all our supplies to supply us with merchandise that complies with the Kimberley Process and to make the following promise:
"I confirm that, to the best of our knowledge and in accordance with the Kimberley process, we do not supply any diamonds to F.Hinds as part of finished jewellery items or in any other form which come from countries or regions in which there is war or other conflict in progress and where the sale of such diamonds may be believed to be contributing to the continuation of the conflict or its scale. I will confirm this on each invoice as required by the Kimberley process but also warrant that it is the case regardless of whether such confirmation is present."
It is hoped that the Kimberley Process will reduce the flow of conflict diamonds by 80-90%, which mean that they would represent less than 1% of world production.
Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)F.Hinds are also pleased to announce we are now certified members of the Responsible Jewellery Council (the RJC); a standards-setting organisation that has been established to reinforce customer confidence in the jewellery industry. For more information, please click here.
ConclusionWe support all practical moves to eliminate conflict diamonds and will only use suppliers who demonstrate responsible trading by confirming the diamonds they supply are in accordance with the Kimberley Process.
We do not support blanket boycotts of the type suggested in some quarters. These could irreparably damage many people’s livelihoods, especially in Africa and India. In Namibia, diamonds are the largest industry and account for 40% of foreign exchange earnings. In Botswana they account for 75% of all such earnings and a third of the country’s total GDP. These are not rich countries in western terms and they rely heavily on the diamond industry. Such legitimate countries are estimated to represent at least 96% of total diamond production. There are also an estimated 700,000 diamond cutters in India, a very poor country in terms of wealth per capita, and the diamonds cut there are almost predominantly the smaller, lower value stones it would be difficult to track and impractical to certificate.
We feel that this is a responsible way to proceed. We do not want to help to prolong conflicts in any way, but we also do not want to share any responsibility for potentially putting millions of people across the world’s livelihoods at risk.
If you have any further queries, please email us at email@example.com or write to us at our Head Office address.
For further details, see the website of the World Diamond Council: www.worlddiamondcouncil.com
What is Dirty Gold?A gift of gold symbolises love, commitment, romance and friendship. But gold mining can be a dirty business – there is a risk of contaminated drinking water, destroyed traditional livelihoods and displaced indigenous communities. Consumers want to know that the gold they are buying does not come from 'dirty mines'.
This has generated an interest in finding alternatives to harmful gold-producing practices. This interest comes not only from environmental, human rights and social justice groups, but also from jewellery retail firms, electronic producers and individual consumers.
Individuals from around the world have signed the “No Dirty Gold” pledge asking retailers to ensure that the gold in their products have not been produced at the expense of local communities, workers and the environment. These consumers don't want their glittering purchases to be tarnished by gold mining that pollutes water, destroys communities, fuels conflicts or threatens wildlife and natural areas.
We’re no different from our customers and we also want to know that the gold we sell is not produced at the expense of communities, workers and the environment. We are therefore very keen to join the campaign to insist that the gold we buy and sell is produced in accordance with the “Golden Rules”, which combine social and human rights.
The 'Golden Rules'Similar to our leading actions in opposing the mining of “Conflict Diamonds" in 2002, we have been at the cutting edge of the jewellery industry when it comes to Dirty Gold. We are always trying to ensure that the gold products we sell are not be produced at the expense of communities, workers and the environment and we hope to be one of the first jewellery retailers to adopt the “Golden Rules”.
But cleaning up dirty gold mining is not just a public relations exercise. It's about making concrete, on-the-ground changes in the way that this metal is produced - changes that make a tangible difference to communities and ecosystems affected by mining operations.
The Golden Rules involve social, human rights and environmental criteria for more responsible mining of gold and other precious metals. They call on mining companies to meet the following basic standards in their operations:
- Respect for basic human rights outlined in international conventions and law
- Free, prior and informed consent of affected communities
- Safe working conditions
- Respect for workers' rights and labour standards (including the 8 core ILO conventions)
- Ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarised conflict
- Ensure that projects do not force communities off their lands
- No dumping of mine wastes into the ocean, rivers, lakes or streams
- Ensure that projects are not located in protected areas, fragile ecosystems or other areas of high conservation or ecological value
- Ensure that projects do not generate sulphuric acid in perpetuity
- Cover all costs of closing down and cleaning up mine sites
- Fully disclose information about social and environmental effects of projects
- Allow independent verification of the above
We don’t mine gold and we can’t change these things ourselves, but we can join with our customers and fellow consumers to insist that the mining companies adopt best practice in all of the above areas.
Our gold buyer, Director and sixth generation family member, Andrew Hinds, signed up to the “Unearth Justice/No Dirty Gold” pledge in the earliest days of the campaign and endorsed the principles of the Golden Rules on behalf of the company at the time.
ConclusionWe support all practical moves to ensure that the mining of gold brings prosperity to local communities but not pollution.
We do not support blanket boycotts of the type suggested in some quarters. These could irreparably damage many people’s livelihoods, especially in many poor countries, with a dependence of the income generated by mining. This is why we support the constructive nature of the CAFOD “Unearth Justice” campaign.
We feel that this is a responsible way to proceed. We do not want to help to prolong conflict or environmental damage in any way, but we also do not want to share any responsibility for potentially putting millions of people across the world’s livelihoods at risk.
If you have any further queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Useful links: www.cafod.org.uk www.nodirtygold.org