Cartier has full custody of portion of its gold supply chain

Cartier ranking by HRW – Moderate

Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 and has since become one of world’s largest and most well-known jewelry brands. The company operates 278 stores worldwide. Its 2016 sales were about $5.7 billion. Cartier is owned by Richemont, a luxury goods group based in Switzerland, and represents an estimated 45 percent of Richemont’s revenue.

Cartier responded to Human Rights Watch’s request for information with three short letters about Cartier’s commitment to responsible sourcing and its role in the RJC. Cartier did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request for a meeting.

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Cartier has chain of custody for some of its gold and sources an undisclosed percentage of its gold from a small-scale “model” mine in Honduras. The company, however, is heavily reliant on the RJC and its certification system, which, as described above, has a number of weaknesses.

Cartier waives audits for suppliers that are RJC-certified, the vast majority of their gold and diamond suppliers. On the basis of available information, Human Rights Watch considers Cartier to have made moderate efforts to ensure human rights due diligence.

Supply chain policy: Cartier’s corporate responsibility policy recognizes a range of international labor and human rights standards and states that the policy “applies equally to Cartier’s supply chain.”

Diamond suppliers must be in compliance with the Kimberley Process and the World Diamond Council’s Standard of Warranties. Cartier’s parent company, Richemont, has a more detailed Supplier Code of Conduct, which applies to all of its brands. However, Cartier does not present the Supplier Code of Conduct as a central element of its responsible sourcing policy; it is not even mentioned on its website.

Rather, Cartier emphasizes the central role of the RJC in its approach to responsible sourcing: Cartier’s website and letters to Human Rights Watch focus on the importance of the RJC and Cartier’s active role within it.

Cartier requires all its gold suppliers to be members of the RJC and sources the overwhelming majority of its diamonds from RJC-certified companies.

Chain of custody: Cartier has chain of custody for some, but not all, of its gold. It does not indicate whether it has chain of custody for diamonds. Cartier’s corporate responsibility policy does not mention traceability. Cartier’s parent company Richemont says that traceability is a long-term goal and an area for improvement for all its companies in the coming years.

Richemont’s refinery in Switzerland has developed sources of gold that it says are either certified or will become certified against the RJC Chain-of-Custody Standard, with a heavy emphasis on recycled gold.

Cartier also has traceability for a fraction of its gold, sourced from a mine in Honduras, as described below.

Assessment of human rights risks: Cartier appears to rely heavily on RJC standards as a tool to assess human rights risks. According to Richemont’s Supplier Code of Conduct, suppliers are required to demonstrate that they are undertaking human rights due diligence, but it is unclear whether Cartier enforces this provision or considers RJC certification sufficient.

Response to human rights risks: Cartier appears to rely on the RJC to respond to human rights risks. The Supplier Code of Conduct states that where third-party audits of suppliers identify areas for improvement, Richemont’s “Maisons” (brands) follow up with remedial action plans. Under the Code, Richemont also reserves the right to terminate business relationships with suppliers that do not comply with its Code of Conduct. It is unclear whether Cartier takes independent steps to enforce these provisions or considers RJC certification sufficient.

Third-party verification: Cartier is certified against the RJC’s Code of Practices. The company relies on the RJC auditing process for third-party audits of its gold and diamond suppliers. Suppliers that are RJC-certified do not have to undergo separate audits against Cartier or Richemont standards.

Annual reporting: Cartier’s policies and approach to responsible sourcing are described annually in Richemont’s Corporate Social Responsibility report. The company does not publish summaries of audits, information regarding noncompliance, or steps to address noncompliance. Richemont’s Corporate Social Responsibility report states explicitly that “neither supplier audit findings nor remedial action plans are publicly disclosed.”

Publish suppliers: Cartier has identified the Eurocantera mine in Honduras (see below) as a supplier for a small portion of its gold, but does not provide information on other suppliers.

Support for artisanal and small-scale mining:  Cartier sources part of its gold from the Italian-owned Eurocantera mine in Honduras, but does not specify what percentage of its gold is sourced there. Cartier describes Eurocantera as a “model mine” for its high ethical, social, and environmental standards. According to Cartier, the mine uses neither cyanide nor mercury to extract and process its gold. The mine integrates a mid-scale gold mine that produces about two-thirds of Eurocantera’s gold, and an artisanal and small-scale mining community, which produces one-third of the gold.

Cartier buys the entire output of the mine, and refines the gold at a facility in Italy that is solely dedicated to processing gold from the mine. The company has also sourced gold from a Peruvian mine that has been Fairtrade-certified.

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