London: New guidelines in the UK are set to help boost ethical sourcing of jewellery. The recommendations from the government are to make retailers and producers aware of human rights abuses that take place in their supply chains.
Gold, diamonds and other precious stones and metals are often sourced from areas in Africa and South America where labourers face appalling working conditions.
Many of the products that end up in luxury jewellery stores have horrific stories behind them. Artisanal gold, platinum and silver miners work long hours in difficult conditions and often put their lives at risk to make a living. The Jewellery Ethics committee has worked to ensure producers in the UK are aware of possible abuses that take place in the mining of the products they buy.
The British government will produce recommendations to provide practical advice on how jewellery manufacturers in the UK can resolve issues in their supply chains. The guidelines are also expected to help businesses like Cox + Power demonstrate their ethical credentials.
But Amy Ross, Gold Project Manager for Fairtrade International, said more also needs to be done by big mining companies and governments in places like Africa. “The UK government could also use its position to put pressure on the governments of those countries to pay attention to artisanal miners and ensure that their conditions are improving and they are not left out in the cold where they are forced to sell on the black market and forced to sell in dangerous conditions,” she said.
The gold industry is a major contributor to many East African economies, but fairly traded gold still only makes up a small fraction.
The hope is that the recommendations by the UK government will go some way to increasing this, helping ensure a brighter future for some of the hundreds of thousands employed in the industry in Africa.