Responsible Luxury: CSR in the Jewellery Industry

A report titled 'Responsible Luxury' was released for the first time recently at the World Jewellery Confederation at a session dedicated to development of CSR in the jewellery industry. The report argues that conscientious business practice is no longer simply an add-on and will ensure customer loyalty in the future.

Tiffany & Co. has been proactive in CSR and with a reported 19% share of the global jewellery market, it is capable of potentially influencing the CSR norms in the industry. Tiffany has the power to make a change by leading the effort to create a certified diamond and precious stone standard to ensure conflict-free diamonds and environmental standards for precious metal mining.

De Beers is the largest diamond mining company in the world, producing over 40% of the world's global gem diamonds from mines in Africa, as well as sorting and selling the majority of the world's rough diamonds.  The Diamond Development Initiative started by the company is an effort to address problems which brings NGOs, governments and business together in a common effort that aims to convert diamonds from a fuel for war into an engine for development.

Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. has faced criticism regarding environmental and human rights impacts of its mining operation and recently conducted an independent Human Rights Impact Assessment in Guatemala at the request of shareholders. In their first move towards CSR, a steering committee is being formed to oversee this assessment process.

In India, the gems and jewellery market is set to cross US$ 26 billion by 2012. India is also the largest consumer and importer of gold, accounting for about 20% of global gold consumption. Although the market is saturated with many small players, the branded jewellery market is said to grow.

Surat in Gujarat is India's diamond processing hub, contributing over 80% of the country's diamond processing industry with annual revenues of  US$ 13.03 billion. India is also the world's largest diamond cutting and polishing centre and accounts for 95% share of the world market by number of pieces. It is the third largest consumer of polished diamonds after the US and Japan. The scope for CSR in the jewellery industry in India is huge.

Tanishq, an arm of TATA is one of the biggest jewellery brands in the country and they follow the TATA's own brand of CSR. I did not hear back from a spokesperson for Dubai jewellery brand, Joyalukkas; although they are involved in CSR initiatives, their website says nothing about gold, diamond sourcing and what they're doing to reduce environmental and social impacts.

The Mumbai-based Dimexon Group's retail arm Kirthilals which is based in Coimbatore, India  is heavily involved in CSR initiatives by ensuring strong socio-environmental credentials in their operations. The group supplies diamonds to many top  international brands such as Cartier, Tiffany, Rolex, Chopard, Gucci etc. They use the 'Forever mark' which tells customers that the diamond comes from a  non-conflict area of the world, mined and processed with vigorous environmental standards.

Many top jewellery brands agree that there should be international environment and social standards for the mining and processing of precious metal and stones. They are of consensus that these universal standards like the Kimberley process, will go a long way in ensuring that CSR is practiced more robustly in the jewellery industry.