Know where your jewelry comes from
Few of us think of human rights when buying jewelry for ourselves or the people we love. If we do, we believe there must be mechanisms in place to ensure that revenue from mining precious stones and metal is not used to fund violence, corruption, human rights abuses, and blatant disregard for the environment. But unfortunately, this is wrong. Diamond and gold mining in many parts of the world is still plagued with extreme human rights and labour abuses, as well as horrendous environmental harm.
In Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields, residents have faced forced labour, torture and violence from security and police forces. Yet, their diamonds are sold legally all over the world, officially part of the the Kimberly Process, no less.
In the Philippines, children dig deep underground or dive underwater to mine gold, under life-threatening conditions. Again, this gold is sold worldwide without restriction.
Even in the United States, large-scale gold mines have caused dangerous pollution through countless tailing pond leaks and accidents.
This industry is rife with exploitation and horror due to the high price of the mined metals and yet it flies under the radar of the average consumer.
When asked, many jewelry companies purport to operate with high ethical standards, citing the inadequate Kimberly Process, but still fail to actively assess risks for human rights violations in their supply chains.
So, with that all said, the next time you buy jewelry, consider asking your jewelery company these questions:
1) Where do the gold, diamonds or other minerals in your jewelry come from?
2) What has your company done to find out whether there are human rights abuses in and around the mines where the metals or gems are from?
3) Does your company make the names of your suppliers public?
Half the world’s gold and the majority of the world’s diamonds are used for jewelry. Mining these precious minerals provides essential income for millions of miners, but it needs to be done in a way that respects human rights and the environment. It is our job as consumers to remind jewelry companies of that responsibility.