Great Debate encourages retailers to get ethical

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BJA seminar draws a crowd with line up of global guest speakers.

The Great Debate took place yesterday morning in the Inspiration Theatre, with guests vying for seats ahead of a talk from industry organisations including the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO), the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and jewellery designer Stephen Webster.

The debate was introduced by Birmingham Assay Office chief executive Michael Allchin, who presented an overview of the history of the Great Debate. The first session was held in 2004, following the release of the Dirty Gold report from Oxfam and has since become an annual fixture at IJL and is used as a platform for retailers to share thoughts on ethical issues and experiences in the sector.

“We have made good progress in the UK with a view to ethical issues but lots of issues still exist,” said Allchin.

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This year’s panel included CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri, Catherine Sproule, the Canadian chief executive of the RJC, and British jewellery designer Stephen Webster, who this year travelled to Peru on the trail of artisanal gold mines. Webster re-told his experiences at the debate and showed a video he had made to document the trip.

The RJC has a long list of members in the UK, including F Hinds, Beaverbrooks and Signet’s UK arm of retail jewellers, but is currently on the trail to recruit more businesses from Britain.

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