Role of the RJC

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RJC chief executive explains the organisations aims.

RJC chief executive Michael Rae explains the purpose of the RJC and what it is seeking to achieve.

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is an international not-for-profit organisation bringing together over 230 member companies across the jewellery supply chain.

It was founded in 2005 by a group of fourteen organisations: ABN AMRO, BHP Billiton Diamonds, Cartier (part of Richemont), World Jewellery Confederation, Diamond Trading Company (part of De Beers), Diarough, Jewelers of America, National Association of Goldsmiths (UK), Newmont Mining, Rio Tinto, Rosy Blue, Signet Group, Tiffany & Co., and Zale Corporation.

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In 2009, the organisation developed the RJC System, a certification system which applies to all members’ businesses that contribute to the diamond and gold jewellery supply chain.

Under the RJC system, all Commercial Members of the RJC are required to be audited by accredited, third party auditors to verify their conformance with the RJC’s code of practices and gain certification from the organisation.

“Where you are in the supply chain, many different issues apply,” explains RJC chief executive Michael Rae. “Part of that includes reference to the Kimberley Process and the World Diamond Council system of warrantees.”

Failure to comply by the Kimberley Process and The World Diamond Council system of warrantees, which demands a written statement must accompany all invoices, guaranteeing that the diamonds or diamond jewellery being sold are from legitimate source, is a critical breach of the RJC’s membership criteria and would lead to expulsion.

The RJC’s current mandate is to found a viable system of transparency within the supply chain, so that its members will be able to buy diamonds secure in the knowledge of where they have been sourced and the practices involved in the stones’ mining.

“What the RJC has done is unique to any industry,” Rae says. “It looks at responsible practices throughout the entire supply chain, which as you can appreciate in the jewellery industry is a very complicated process.”

Many existing systems, claims Rae, fail to account for all steps of production, often covering only one aspect of the chain.

“Those systems look at one aspect of the supply chain – the source,” he says. You could buy a Forest Stewardship Council table that comes from a sustainably managed forest, but the table could have been built by slaves.

“Ours looks at the entire jewellery supply chain. Having done that, which I assure you was difficult enough, we are now looking at the entire chain of custody.”

 

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