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Editor's Desk

Responsible Jewellery Council rules too lenient

The Responsible Jewellery Council’s mandate is to “increase consumer confidence in the jewellery industry”, but are you aware that almost ‘anyone’ can become a member? Coleby Nicholson believes that its membership rules should be more stringent. 

The day the loony left suggested that ‘man holes’ be renamed ‘person holes’ or ‘access holes’, I tuned out. Political correctness has gone way too far since it came to prominence in the 1990s.

Then, just as we had come to terms with the nonsense of political correctness (PC), along came weasel words. Just as there are many definitions of PC, there are many definitions of weasel words (WW) but it’s generally accepted that they are words used to say something without offending anyone or putting yourself in danger of being contradicted. Some of my favourite weasel words include sustainability, stakeholder, value-creation and engagement.

When you add PC to WW you get a mighty concoction and watch out anyone who has a differing opinion for fear of being labelled names like ‘denier’! The situation gets even worse when you add the proverbial ‘motherhood statement’  - a feel good cliché with which no one can disagree.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of changing many things in life, especially when it comes to human rights but all too often noble causes are hijacked. And when PC is coupled with WW and motherhood statements, cynicism and suspicion arise. Worse, when too much of this happens, a backlash often occurs.

I believe consumers have reached that point and tuned-out on many of today’s political causes, which leads us to the Responsible Jewellery Council.

Its website states; “RJC members are committed to promoting responsible, ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices in a transparent and accountable manner throughout the industry from mine to retail. Their commitment aims to reinforce consumer and stakeholder confidence in jewellery products.”

Wait! Let me stop you right there before you think I’m about to criticise the RJC for its excessive use of motherhood statements.

Nor am I suggesting that RJC’s purpose is anything but wholesome. But I do wonder whether the RJC has its own house in order!

Formed in 2006, there are over 300 RJC members who subscribe to the vision to “increase consumer confidence in diamond and gold jewellery” and one of the membership benefits is to trade off the not-for-profit organisation’s credibility by displaying the RJC logo.

The annual membership fee is based on a percentage of sales and the minimum fee is a mere £100 ($151). Members must undertake a rigorous, third-party audit within two years of joining in order to become certified. All of this information is detailed on it’s excellent website:

But if the RJC’s mission is to “increase consumer confidence in the jewellery industry”, then I wonder what consumers would think if they discovered RJC members, who proudly flaunt and trade-off the RJC logo, might have no intention of becoming certified?

A £100 per year buys you a lot of credibilty!

Indeed, there is no process in place for the RJC to verify if a business actually trades. In other words, I could establish a company today to attract investors in a speculative venture, join the RJC, use its imprimatur as a way to draw potential investors and all along have no intention of becoming certified.

After all, it isn’t as if the jewellery industry has never seen scammers and fraudsters. How far would it impinge on consumers’ confidence if the 'Dodgy Brothers' are RJC members now and they commit a gigantic fraud?

Membership should only be contingent on a company gaining certification because a business that doesn’t trade cannot be audited.

More importantly, it should not be possible for members to use the RJC logo to boost consumer confidence and trust until after certification is secured so that consumers are assured a company really is worthy of RJC membership and endorsement.

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

Ellendale Diamonds Australia

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