Press Release: Industry leaders from the major trade associations and buying groups in the U.K. and Ireland have come together to take a lead on issues of ethics and corporate social responsibility across the jewelry industry by backing the work of the Jewellery Ethics Committee U.K. (JEC-UK).
At a designer-maker evening event that was organized by JEC-UK at the Goldsmiths’ Centre on October 2, the chair of the committee, Vivien Johnston, announced that the Houlden Group, the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) and Retail Jewellers of Ireland (RJI) will work alongside the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG), British Jewellers’ Association (BJA) and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), in supporting the work undertaken by the JEC-UK.
The initiative, which began in 2009 under the stewardship of former NAG CEO Michael Hoare, who recognized the importance and potential of this emerging movement within the industry, has since been working toward researching jewelry supply chains in and around the U.K. market and providing recommendations for jewelers to make their businesses ethically and socially responsible.
The addition of the U.K.’s two largest buying groups and the largest jewelry trade association in Ireland to the JEC-UK rostrum gives further credence to the committee’s continued work and shows how the industry is behind these efforts to tackle ethical challenges. It is hoped that with the additional support of these organizations, it will urge the industry to re-examine their approach to sourcing, particularly from ethical suppliers and manufacturers, as well as how their business impacts the wider-community they trade in, whether that be at a local, national or international level.
Importantly, the initiative has now also taken roots beyond the boundaries of the U.K. – a hugely positive move for the future of Irish jewelers, as well as for the continued partnership between trade bodies in the U.K. and Ireland.
The move to support JEC-UK was broadly welcomed by RJI’s president, Alison Browne, who commented, “I’m so pleased to be involved with the work the JEC-UK is carrying out. Ethical issues are important to our members and we welcome the opportunity to share our retailer’s experiences and address the issues collectively. I was interested to learn from the JEC Gold Paper that up to 90 percent of U.K. gold is recycled and much of that is subject to self-regulation. I am realistically at this point looking for choice for our customers where a customer can have the option to order a ring in fair trade gold.”
Browne’s sentiment was echoed by Holden Group’s Helen Haddow, who commented, “It is encouraging to see the development within the ethical trade movement over recent years. The JEC has made significant development toward educating all aspects of the industry, including the supply chain, with their protocols and procedures. These practical solutions allow the different sectors within the jewelry industry to contribute toward the responsible sourcing of product, which we at the Houlden Group fully support.”
During the evening, Greg Valerio of Fairtrade Gold presented the Fairtrade “I Do” campaign to stress the importance of ethics to new jewelry consumers, while Johnston presented an interim report on the JEC Diamond Paper. The full paper, to be released in 2015, will give retailers, manufacturers and suppliers the tools they need to understand diamond supply chain in the U.K. and how they can best position their business to ensure they are acting as ethically as possible. The interim report will be available to download from the BJA, NAG and Gem-A websites, as well as the JEC-UK website at: www.jec-uk.com.
The Jewellery Ethics Committee U.K. is a joint-venture between the three major trade associations for the UK Jewellery Trade: the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) the British Jewellers’ Association (BJA); and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A). The committee is chaired by luxury ethical jeweler Vivien Johnston from Fifi Bijoux with social activist and pioneer of Fairtrade Gold, Greg Valerio attending as a special advisor. For further information about JEC-UK, please sign-up to the JEC-UK Mailing list at www.jec-uk.com.
You can also find out further information about the Fairtrade Gold initiative at: www.fairgold.org
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