Marc Choyt and myself have been following the very sad story of the slow erosion of the Kimberley Process since the middle of last year over. The critical issue is RJC’s stance around legitimising the export of diamonds from Zimbabwe.
This has created quite a stir, with many jewellers unable to support The Kimberley Process or the apparent double standard of The Responsible Jewellery Councils support for Zimbabwe diamonds. Many in the industry, including ourselves, view Zimbabwe diamonds as blood diamonds. That the RJC members accept these diamonds into their supply chain undermines RJC’s stated objectives of ‘Reinforcing the consumer confidence in the Diamond and Gold Supply Chain’
Below is the resignation letter from Caroline Kindy of Element Jewellery in Hebdon Bridge UK, one of the UK’s leading ethical jeweller.
29th November 2010
To The Chairman of the RJC
In response to the RJC’s decision to welcome the KP’s agreement regarding Zimbabwe I have decided that Element Jewellery will no longer retain its RJC membership.
From my point of view, it is hypocritical that the RJC support KPs agreement in allowing Zimbabwe to become a Participant and therefore will enable the renewal of rough diamond exports from the Marange diamond fields.
The RJC claim to “build ‘a community of confidence’ across every step of the diamond and gold jewellery supply chain in all geographies, and among businesses large and small”. As a retailer, I have lost confidence that the RJC is offering a transparent and ethical way of defining and implementing responsible jewellery practices.
I received a notice from the chair of the KP today stating that they hope they can soon bring the Marange and Zimbabwe into full compliance – a tall order given the current and historical state of affairs and widely documented human rights violations in Marange.
When my customers ask me if the diamond that they are buying has been ethically sourced, I no longer feel confident in saying “I will not knowingly sell conflict diamonds and to the best of our ability we will undertake reasonable measures to help prevent the sale of conflict diamonds in this country
I second Rob Bates’ comment:
“I still support the KP—not because it helps consumer confidence in the industry, because I am not convinced it does. I believe the KP is the right thing to do, because uncontrolled diamond sales can lead to some horrible things. It has even proved its worth this year, leading to a marked improvement in the situation in Marange.”
But all that is in jeopardy now, and if the KP does fall apart, it will be difficult to re-create. With “traditional definition” conflict diamonds basically history, there isn’t going to be much political will to construct an international gemstone certification scheme.”
In my own words, how can the RJC feel morally justified in supporting Zimbabwe’s participation of the KP? The way that I am choosing to express my concern and to demonstrate my disagreement of your act of hypocrisy is to cancel my membership from the RJC.
I would be delighted to be a part of an organisation that is firmly committed to its principals and would therefore love to join the RJC once again should your position on Zimbabwe change. So please do keep me informed.
Element Jewellery Ltd