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No Dirty Gold Report Reflects Progress

Feb 10, 2010 12:41 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... With Valentine's Day on the way, the No Dirty Gold campaign told consumers that dozens of jewelers were taking innovative steps to provide gold jewelry made in a more environmentally and socially responsible manner as a report published today by Earthworks, "Tarnished Gold: Assessing the Jewelry Industry's Progress on Ethical Sourcing of Metals," evaluated jewelers' specific progress in sourcing cleaner precious metals.

More than 60 jewelry companies, including Sears, Herff Jones, a school ring maker, and Tiffany & Co., have committed to purchasing cleaner sources of gold by endorsing the No Dirty Gold's Golden Rules, a set of responsible mining principles. The production of a single gold ring generates about 20 tons of mine waste, which can release acids and toxic pollutants, according to No Dirty Gold.  no dirty gold

"We're encouraged that jewelry industry leaders are listening to their customers — and their consciences — and are working to find alternatives to irresponsibly mined metals," said Payal Sampat of Earthworks, who is also the director of the No Dirty Gold consumer campaign.

Target, T.J. Maxx and Harry Winston were among the retailers who failed to make the grade. These "laggards" have yet to take the first steps toward more responsible metal sourcing and have repeatedly declined to join their colleagues in supporting the Golden Rules, according to the report.

No Dirty Gold concluded that given the demand for gold jewelry, which comprises 90 percent of gold mine production, the mining industry is continuing to act too slowly in implementing the necessary changes.

The Golden Rules call for miners to abide by the following principles: demonstrating respect for human rights and workers' rights; obtaining free and informed consent from local communities before mining is conducted; staying out of protected natural areas; refraining from dumping mine waste into rivers, streams and coastal waters; and guaranteeing payments to cover the costs of closing and cleaning up mines.

The Earthworks report also found that Birks & Mayors, Tiffany & Co. and Herff Jones reported making the most progress toward improving their metal sourcing practices. But smaller jewelers reported making the largest strides in their commitment to the Golden Rules, including Brilliant Earth, Cred Jewellery in the U.K., Lena Marie Chelle Designs and Real Jewels.

"Recalcitrant jewelry retailers like Target need to learn from the leaders and take meaningful action to source metals more responsibly and stop destructive mining," said Scott Cardiff of Earthworks' No Dirty Gold campaign.

The No Dirty Gold campaign was launched in 2004 to educate and motivate consumers and jewelry retailers to push the mining industry toward more responsible practices.

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Tags: Birks & Mayors, Brilliant Earth, Consumers, Harry Winston, Jewelry, Production, Tiffany
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