Facts About the Campaign To Eliminate Conflict Diamonds

There has been a major breakthrough in the campaign to eliminate the traffic in "conflict diamonds." All of the nations with significant involvement in the diamond trade have agreed on a global certification system aimed at preventing criminals from insinuating contraband diamonds mined in African combat zones into the legitimate supply chain. To supplement this government effort, industry leaders have created a voluntary self-regulation programme.

We at Michael Jones Jeweller welcome this important development and are very actively supporting the new system designed to safeguard our products' integrity. This fact sheet describes highlights of the comprehensive system taking effect 1st January 2003.

Role of Governments

Fifty-two countries have adopted a system to control the export and import of rough diamonds minded from 1st January 2003 onward. Known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, it requires that each shipment of rough diamonds - before stones are cut and polished - be in a tamper-resistant container and accompanied by a government-validated certificate. Each certificate is uniquely numbered and contains data describing the shipment's contents.

Participating countries have pledged to turn back or impound shipments of rough diamonds from any nation that fails to subscribe to the new standards. Shipments lacking proper certification will be treated in a similar way. The Government Diamond Office is responsible for enforcement in the United Kingdom.

In the past, the legitimate supply chain was most vulnerable to exploitation between the time diamonds were mined in African combat zones and the time they were exported from the country of origin. Under the new system that problem is addressed as rough diamonds are packaged with a certificate of origin soon after they are mined. At later stages of the diamonds' journey to market, rough diamonds also carry a certificate describing the shipment's contents and confirming that the stones are coming from a Kimberley Process participant. Any country declining to participate is effectively barred from the international diamond trade.

Role of Industry

To supplement the government programme, the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) - representing virtually all significant processors and traders - have established a regimen of self-regulation. Its principal element is a system of warranties that will accompany invoices covering the sale of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and diamond jewellery. The requirement applies to rough diamonds mined after 31st December 2002 and product fabricated from them.

Each time the diamonds change hands, the seller affirms to the buyer, in writing, that the diamonds come from legitimate sources "not involved in funding conflict [and] in compliance with United Nations resolutions" Under a new code of conduct adopted by IDMA and WFDB, members are required, among other things, to deal only with sellers that use the warranty system.

Retailers who support the Kimberley Process must buy diamonds from dealers and manufacturers that adhere to the warranty system. At Michael Jones Jeweller this policy is being followed. We are notifying/have notified all of our suppliers of diamonds and diamond jewellery that merchandise we buy that is derived from rough diamonds mined after 31st December 2002 must be accompanied by a warranty. This warranty assures us that the supplier vouches for the legitimacy of the merchandise and that the supplier, in turn, has required the same warranty from their source of merchandise.

Between the government's certification programme and the industry's warranty system, Michael Jones Jeweller customers can have a very high degree of confidence that the worldwide supply chain is protected from the introduction of additional conflict diamonds. The new system's effectiveness will be monitored. Participants agree that if experience indicates improvements are needed, they will be made.

Dirty Gold

We are writing to make you aware of a campaign, which is becoming increasingly vocal within the UK, regarding the 'Real price of Gold'. The reasons for this campaign revolve around certain types of gold mining and the processes involved some of which have a devastating impact on the communities and environment in the areas of mining.

The Unearth Justice campaign, which is run by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod), has already received mass coverage within the United States and has gained the support of many leading retailers. Tiffany & Co, Signet, Zale Corp, Cartier, Piagets and Van Cleef & Arples have all agreed to abide by what the campaign call the Golden Rules.

The Golden Rules call on mining companies to meet the following basic standards in their operation:

  • Respect for basic human rights outlines in international conventions and law.
  • Free, prior and informed consent of affected communities.
  • Safe working conditions.
  • Respect for workers' rights and labour standards (including the eight core ILO conventions).
  • Ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarised conflicts.
  • Ensure that projects do not force communities off their lands.
  • No dumping of mine wastes into the ocean, river, lakes or streams.
  • Ensure that projects are not located in protected areas, fragile ecosystems or other areas of high conservation or ecological value
  • Ensure that projects do not generate sulphuric acid in perpetuity.
  • Cover all costs of closing down and cleaning up mine sites.
  • Fully disclose information about social environmental effects on projects.
  • Allow independent verification of the above.

The above guiding principles would ensure that basic human rights, that we possibly take for granted, are upheld whilst also ensuring that our environment is protected. We fully support the aims behind the campaign and would ask that as one of our suppliers you make your suppliers aware of the issues and ultimately they take up the issue with their suppliers.

The jewellery industry is going through great changes and faces many difficult challenges, for the long term sustainability of our industry we must all play a part to ensure that our industry is seen as an ethical one with high moral guiding principles.

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