New Review Announces Top Jewelers Supporting Conflict-Free Gold Trade
Holiday Season ‘Jewelry Leaders Review’ Offers Shoppers Way to Support Peace in Mining Communities in Congo
Monday, November 24, 2014 — Two giants of the jewelry world, Signet Jewelers (parent company of jewelry retailers Zales®, Jared®, and Kay®) and Tiffany & Co., were announced today as the industry’s leaders taking action to support peace and a conflict-free gold trade in Congo. The Enough Project’s “#CongoGold Jewelry Leaders Review” offers an opportunity for consumers to make informed, responsible choices when purchasing gold jewelry during the holiday gift-giving season.
The result of a year-long project researching the top retailers of gold jewelry, the Jewelry Leaders Review is designed to encourage responsible supply chain practices to help stem the tide of “conflict gold.” Illicitly mined and smuggled gold currently funds armed groups responsible for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Along with Tiffany and Signet, the Review identifies three companies also taking initial important steps in the conflict-free Congo gold effort: J.C. Penney, Cartier, and Target.
Holly Dranginis, Enough Project Policy Analyst and lead author of the report “Going for Gold,” said, “We strongly encourage anyone buying gold jewelry to consider how their shopping choices can help to transform a brutal, criminalized trade into a responsible, flourishing enterprise. We’ve identified two companies that truly stand apart in their efforts to make gold jewelry a product that represents not only luxury and love, but also peace.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy for Congo, Great Lakes Region and LRA at the Enough Project, said “The conflict gold trade is funding armed groups in eastern Congo, but jewelers are starting to recognize both their opportunity and their responsibility to support a conflict-free trade. The leading work of Signet and Tiffany, as well as the initial efforts of J.C. Penney, Cartier, and Target, should be celebrated as critical first steps. If jewelers follow through and invest in responsible sourcing programs from Congo, it would help end a deadly trade.”
The Jewelry Leaders Review mirrors an effort by the Enough Project to evaluate the consumer electronics industry, which helped spur Intel, Motorola Solutions, and other leading companies to transform electronics industry sourcing practices. Today, two-thirds of mines in eastern Congo from three of the four conflict minerals are conflict-free.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Founding Director, said, “Today, many companies producing laptops and smartphones have cleaned up their act and are working hard to ensure the minerals that go into their products are not stained by atrocities and armed violence. But gold is still a major driver and funder of violence in Congo and the Great Lakes region. As the biggest end-user of gold, the jewelry industry has an opportunity to be a game-changer for peace.”
Coinciding with the announcement of jewelry leaders, the Enough Project published an associated report, “Going for Gold: Engaging the Jewelry Industry in Responsible Gold Sourcing in Africa’s Great Lakes Region.”
“For thousands of years, gold has represented love, tradition, wealth, beauty, and decadence. In the United States alone, these associations cause the gold jewelry industry to be worth more than five billion dollars annually. Halfway around the world, however, the extraction and smuggling of gold serves as an important means of funding for armed groups and army commanders in the deadliest conflict since World War II. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, violent armed actors mine, tax, and smuggle gold and perpetrate widespread atrocities.” – Excerpt, “Going for Gold”
About the #CongoGold Jewelry Leaders Review:
Based on a year-long program of in-depth research, direct engagement with jewelry companies, and industry surveys to evaluate proactive initiatives and business practices for the responsible sourcing of gold from Congo and the Great Lakes region, the Enough Project has developed the #CongoGold Jewelry Leaders Review. The Review is the first-ever comprehensive study identifying the leading jewelry companies engaged to constructively address the issue of conflict gold from Congo.
In developing the Jewelry Leaders Review, the Enough Project gathered information from jewelry companies on four main categories of engagement:
- Conflict-Free Gold Sourcing: Is the company sourcing conflict-free gold from Congo?
- Company Policy: Does the company have a policy articulating its commitment to gold sourcing practices that do not support armed conflict and gross human rights abuses, and has it shared that policy with its employees?
- Engagement with Suppliers: Has the company engaged with its suppliers on its conflict gold policy and worked with them on strategies for sourcing conflict-free gold from Congo?
- Participation in Conflict-Free Gold Initiatives in Congo: Is the company supporting programs to help build a conflict-free gold trade in Congo and the Great Lakes region, including alternative livelihoods and community development programs?
To learn more about the #CongoGold Jewelry Leaders Review and Enough’s “Look who’s getting engaged” campaign: enoughproject.org/CongoGold
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.