RAPAPORT… The No Dirty Gold campaign will celebrate its fifth anniversary on February 14, 2009, and it now has 50 signatories for its “Golden Rules” in support of responsible sourcing of precious metals. Those who have signed on to the campaign so far represent 23 percent of the jewelry market in the U.S., according to the group.
Retailers that have officially committed themselves to the campaign’s Golden Rules include many well-known brands, including Tiffany & Co., Helzberg Diamonds, Zale, Van Cleef & Arpels, Signet, Piaget, JCPenney, Fred Meyer, Fortunoff, Cartier, Birks & Mayors and Ben Bridge Jeweler. “Given our desire for transparency and responsibility in sourcing our materials, it was only natural for Boucheron to sign on to the No Dirty Gold campaign,” said Jean-Christophe Bédos, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Boucheron.
Toby Pomeroy, a jewelry designer based in Oregon, said he learned of No Dirty Gold in 2005 and decided to sign on and to inspire others to follow. “I encountered the No Dirty Gold website and was confronted by the fact that precious metals mining is arguably the most toxic and polluting practice on earth — a fact that I had sensed over the years, but had conveniently been willing to ignore,” he said.
Consumers are joining the campaign too. So far more than 100,000 people have signed No Dirty Gold’s consumer pledge, joining the call for mining and jewelry companies to clean up their sourcing.
Campaign organizers say that the production of one gold ring generates, on average, 20 tons of mine waste. Gold mining has been linked to violent conflict, has displaced people from their lands and their traditional livelihoods and has poisoned waterways with toxic chemicals. “Precious metals mining causes toxic pollution and is often tied to human rights abuses, which are unacceptable to us and our customers,” said Marc Choyt of Reflective Images in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Increased awareness has also led to the creation of the Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA), which seeks to establish best practices for mining operations as well as a system to independently verify compliance with those standards. “We are delighted that fifty of the world’s leading jewelers are seeking alternatives to ‘dirty’ gold,” said Payal Sampat of campaign organizer EARTHWORKS. “Now mining companies must respond to this demand, by ending destructive practices like mining in forests and dumping wastes in lakes and rivers.”