Feature Article

An Introduction to the Responsible Jewellery Council

It seems today that wherever you look, there is a need for us all to take sustainability to a bigger and more impactful place. Whether through electric car adverts, global protests on climate change, or boycotts of products created through abuse of human rights – we now live in a world where sustainability is a “must do,” rather than a nice to have.

Personal decisions matter. Maybe you recycle, shop for second-hand clothes, reduce the amount of plastic at home, or walk instead of drive. But when we start looking at how to make our businesses more sustainable, things may seem a bit more challenging.

We hear, time and again, about companies that want to take their first steps in becoming more sustainable, but have no idea where to start. A simple internet search can unleash an overwhelming and intimidating tsunami of information; before long, you easily can be swept away in the tides of jargon, acronyms and complicated data!

At the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), we get it, and we are here to help.

Put simply, the RJC is the leading standards-setting organization for the global watch and jewelry industry. Our mission is to help companies create and implement sustainable and responsible business practices, right at the heart of their business strategies.

Founded in 2005 by 14 major industry players, the RJC has grown to more than 1,650 members today. They come in all sizes, with our certification now covering nearly $100 billion of the world’s $164 billion jewelry market. Whether you are just a one-person band or a company employing thousands of employees, we help all of you.

In essence, our main priority is to look at where a business is on its sustainability journey and provide practical guidance and training to help it become more responsible not with talk, but with concrete actions tied to global standards.

How do we do that?

RJC have two standards: the 2019 Code of Practices (COP) and the 2017 Chain of Custody (CoC). Through implementation of the COP, RJC members work to bring about better social and environmental conditions within the broader industry, delivering meaningful results for workers, communities and the environment.

COP certification can reduce risks and vulnerabilities in a company’s supply chain and improve management systems and operating procedures to strengthen the business — making it more sustainable. Anyone can use the COP to improve business practices; but for RJC members, abiding by the COP is compulsory, and they must achieve certification showing that compliance within two years of joining the RJC.

Now, you might be thinking “that sounds like a lot of work,” or “I’m only a small company, I don’t have the resources for that,” or maybe even, “I have a million and one other things to do; and I don’t need the added weight of an audit!” These are all very common concerns members have when they first read our requirements, but they are not alone. We have a dedicated membership team spread across the world to assist every member. No matter the size, location, or placement within the industry, we help every step of the way.

The COP is designed to accommodate all types of businesses throughout the jewelry and watch supply chain. It is aligned with the world’s leading standards and requirements, and is roughly split into six different sections:

• General Requirements
• Responsible Supply Chains, Human Rights & Due Diligence
• Labor Rights & Working Conditions
• Health, Safety & Environment
• Gold, Silver, PGM, Diamonds & Coloured Gemstone Products
• Responsible Mining

These six focus areas help ensure people and planet are placed first to all stakeholders. They also ensure that each certified member is a responsible and sustainable business whose supply chain works in partnership with others to create a global sustainable watch and jewellery supply chain.
We know that when you start putting people and planet first, business benefits skyrocket. Companies see topline growth, cost reductions, productivity improvements, investment and asset optimization and are prepared when new regulations come into play (Mckinsey 2019). 90% of Gen Z believes companies must act to help social and environmental issues, and 75% will do research to see if a company is being honest when taking a stand on issues. (Porter Novelli/Cone’s 2019 Gen Z Purpose Study).

It’s clear that placing sustainability at the core of every business is not only important for the planet and a wide range of stakeholders increasingly looking for proof, but also it makes financial and strategic sense.

If you are interested in learning more about what we do, or have specific topics or questions, we would love to hear from you: membership@responsiblejewellery.com

Get involved

If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch.

Marketing & Communications Team
Responsible Jewellery Council
+44 207 321 0992 ext. 206