Trust and confidence will be needed throughout the supply chain as digital technologies transform coloured gemstone trading, says Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC.)
Please watch the replay of the NDC webinar on Jewellery Outlook in which a senior industry panel will discuss how to build consumer confidence in coloured gemstone trading during the pandemic.
The webinar, entitled “Building Consumer Confidence in Coloured Gemstone Trading in the New World”. Please click below to watch the replay:
Iris Van der Veken discusses her vision for the future of coloured gemstone trading in the following interview with Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough:
What is the RJC’s mission to support the coloured gemstone artisanal mining sector?
The RJC’s mission is a responsible world-wide supply chain that promotes trust in the global jewellery and watch industry.
The coloured gemstones sector is highly fragmented and geographically very diverse.
We are committed to be an important catalyst for positive change in working together with the coloured gemstones industry and our members to build strong resilient communities.
This is only possible with a collaborative, multi stakeholder partnership approach including mining communities, traders, dealers and manufacturers, and NGOs.
In our interconnected world all players upstream and downstream in the supply chain are seriously impacted by COVID, but the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on ASM (artisanal and small-scale mining) communities.
Women in particular are disproportionately affected by this crisis.
We do believe it is time to work more closely than ever. The overarching goal is to rebuild better as an industry: to mainstream responsible business practices with one that supports artisanal mining communities.
How will the RJC’s role evolve during the digital transformation of coloured gemstone trading?
The RJC is closely following the digital transformation of coloured gemstone trading with several new trading platforms coming to the market during the pandemic.
We believe it is a priority for these platforms to take measures to enhance the level of confidence of participants and ensure that participants apply a robust due diligence approach.
It is all about trust and confidence at every level of the supply chain. The consumer is looking for purpose and wants to understand the story behind the jewellery.
The RJC is here to support organisations in innovation. We see this as an opportunity to learn from these platforms how they will use the Code of Practices as a framework to manage their processes in their operations.
One of the new platform operators has already joined the RJC.
What are the RJC’s main priorities in terms of standard-setting in coloured gemstones?
Our priority is to support the industry in the journey of sustainability. It is a process of continuous improvement. It takes time and we need full collaboration across the supply chain.
The recent launch of the revised Code of Practices (2019 COP) includes coloured gemstones.
Our standard covers all steps of the supply chain from mine to retail. It is about the leadership path that a company can take in integrating sustainability at the heart of their operations.
As for other materials, the Code covers a wide range of topics that are relevant to the coloured gemstones sector including responsible mining, due diligence, labour rights, human rights, health & safety, and product disclosure.
Since the launch the RJC has been working to develop additional tools to help the industry to implement the COP in the coloured stones sector.
In July 2020 the Due Diligence Toolkit for Diamonds and Coloured Gemstones was published.
The RJC has also established a Coloured Gemstones Taskforce to develop additional practical tools and guidance, again to support the wider adoption of responsible practices.
We anticipate that more coloured gemstone suppliers will become certified.
We have already welcomed a number of new members who deal in coloured gemstones and we believe more will come in due course.
How does the RJC plan to extend its membership in the global coloured gemstone trade?
Through strong collaboration and partnerships. Since the 2019 COP there has been a growing uptake from the coloured gemstones industry.
The RJC is also engaging and collaborating with a range of organisations in the coloured stones sphere with a view to further extending sustainability principles and practices.
Covid 19 has taught us that responsible business is good business.
We strongly believe that together with other leading organisations such as CIBJO, GIT, ICA, AGTA and so many others, we can bring positive change and impact to communities on the ground.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a roadmap for humanity. It is about leaving no one behind. We believe partnerships for progress are the only way forward.