UK jewellers encouraged to put Gold Paper’s 10 steps into practice.
The National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) and British Jewellers’ Association (BJA) have released the Gold Paper – a 39-page report that analyses how the UK jewellery industry can improve its precious metal sourcing.
The paper was formulated as an informed response to the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Dirty Gold, which aired in 2011. It hits back at the notion that the jewellery industry is not taking a lead in the ethical sourcing of gold.
The report details current practices and policies used by refineries, suppliers, retailers, NGOs and banks to regulate and monitor the movement and provenance of gold within the UK supply chain.
The publication also analyses how the UK’s current policies, both imposed and self-policed, are taking "great strides" in ensuring gold can be traced back to a responsible source.
But the paper has also revealed how the industry needs to do more to support its claims of social and ethical sourcing with transparency, traceability, and advanced communication across the entire supply chain.
The release of the report has drawn reaction from those involved in its formation, requesting that leaders across the jewellery industry, at all levels of the gold supply chain, take the lead in reviewing and applying the Gold Paper’s recommendations.
Greg Valerio, founder of Cred Jewellery and the Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold initiatives and member of the Ethics Working Committee, said: "The guiding principles that constitute any claim regarding ethical behaviour in the jewellery trade are transparency and traceability. Without this any claim is green wash.
"I recommend the BJA NAG gold report to any jeweller who is serious about moving in the right ethical direction as its recommendations are good steps towards greater transparency and traceability for our businesses and for our customers.”
Michael Allchin, chief executive and assay master at the Birmingham Assay Office, also backs up Valerio’s views. He has described "the real need" for an ethical supply chain in the UK. “The Gold Paper is a welcome new guide from the NAG and BJA’s Ethical Committee,” said Allchin.
“It gives us an informative overview of the gold supply chain and the key players, including NGO’s, active in this field. It helpfully summarises the current state of play on the definition and sources of ethical jewellery through various different chain of custody programmes.”
The paper features 10 recommendations that jewellers in the UK can put into practice within their business.
"These [steps] ensure we are doing the best we can to source clean gold, and that each of us in our own small way contributes to the wellbeing of poor and disadvantaged communities, and to the conservation of the precious resources of our planet," Allchin added.
Simon Rainer of the BJA described the Gold Paper a positive step forward in communicating that industry needs to work in a very responsible manner. "However, there are still improvements to be made and I commend the 10 point recommendation summary to all of those wishing to learn more about the responsible sourcing of gold," he said.
Ethical jewellery designer and Ethics Working Committee chair Vivien Johnston has taken a pragmatic view of the paper, describing the demands that jewellers "can realistically place on their suppliers" for evidence of responsible sourcing.
"We highlighted the need for better communication between jewellers and those refiners who have already made progress in careful sourcing, which go some way to ensuring their activities don’t damage the environment or human lives," said Johnston.
“What is very evident is that these conversations need to take place frequently and regularly to improve the industries understanding of the critical issues surrounding gold mining and supply chains overall, in order for it to be more responsive, mindful and able to meet consumer expectations of how we conduct our businesses here in the UK."
The NAG’s chief executive Michael Hoare, who launched the Ethics Working Committee in 2010, said that the number of initiatives promoting responsible sourcinh in the gold supply chain can become perplexing and confusing for retailers and designers.
"From the outset it was our intention to come up with some straightforward guidance that cut through the rhetoric. We strongly believe the recommendations in the report will go some way to clearing these muddied waters. These are only the first of many new steps the industry needs to take to get its house in order," stated Hoare.
“However, this all depends on jewellers out there taking up the baton of social responsibility and running with it.”
The Gold Paper is free of charge and is now available on request from the NAG and BJA or online on the NAG blog and the BJA website.