CEO Willie Hamilton encourages industry to ask where items are made.
Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) chief executive Willie Hamilton has launched a campaign to help the jewellery industry track the provenance of its products, titled Just Ask.
Speaking at last weekend’s CMJ buying event in Birmingham, Hamilton noted how consumers have become increasingly inquisitive – and knowledgeable – about the origins of clothing, food, drink and medicines, but less so jewellery.
He said: “What makes jewellery different from all of these product groups? The answer is labelling of contents and country of origin is lawfully required on all products apart from jewellery. I accept that UK hallmarking is one of the best lawful labelling processes across the world but beyond that, we have little or no requirements. Believe me it’s coming and we better be ready for it."
Hamilton is now calling for members of the industry to ask their suppliers where an item comes from when they view or purchase it. "And if they say that they don’t know, then at least you know that they don’t know. And it may well prompt them to ask further down the supply chain," he added.
Hamilton has asked CMJ retailers and CMJ suppliers to do the same with their own suppliers and hopes that it could instigate better clarity of provenance in the industry "before our customers and future customers start to ask".
He added that the jewellery industry is dominated by small businesses and that a collective voice is needed: “The jewellery industry in the UK doesn’t have a big player like the food and fashion industry. No business commands the authority of a Tesco or M&S in the jewellery world and the lone voices of independents are not heard. So here within CMJ, we have a collective voice from both retailers and suppliers that can be heard if we work in unison, so let’s start by this Just Ask initiative and just asking the question.
“This is not just about Fairtrade and promoting ethical standards in the jewellery industry but about basic common sense,” said Hamilton. “If a T-shirt or a pair of shoes has labelling to say where it was manufactured, why not jewellery?”
Hamilton asked CMJ retailers and suppliers to feed back the answers they receive from their suppliers further down the supply chain to the CMJ so that regular updates can be made on the subject of jewellery product provenance through the organisation to its members and the wider industry.