Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2018, Vol. 54, No. 1

Update from the Responsible Jewellery Council

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has announced plans to include colored stones and silver in the next revision cycle for its Code of Practices, which RJC members are certified against. The organization has begun updating its existing standards, a process that takes place every five years. These plans dovetailed with the release of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which outlines 17 goals and 169 targets for member nations to meet. The author sat down with Edward Johnson and Anne-Marie Fleury of the RJC during the 2018 Tucson gem shows to discuss the status of these efforts.

The first round of public consultation, which focused on the scope of changes to the standard, took place in 2017. As of February 2018, RJC’s Code of Practices were under review prior to a second public consultation phase, which targets industry and non-industry stakeholders, of proposed changes to the Code. These consultation phases are in line with RJC’s annual auditing of their standard-setting approach, assurance framework, and measuring impacts program.

Like previous versions, the revised Code will certify business practices rather than products. The certification will cover all the important social, environmental, and health and safety issues in the jewelry supply chain. RJC’s priorities for change, which must work for businesses of all sizes, involve several areas, including:

  • Due diligence for responsible sourcing: RJC recognizes that traceability does not automatically translate to sustainability. As a standard for alignment with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, RJC encourages companies to adopt a due diligence approach to managing risks in their supply chain. Traceability remains a powerful tool for making responsible sourcing claims and is a voluntary certification option.
  • Gender equality: RJC endorses best practices that promote diversity, including gender equality. To this end, it is partnering with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable business practices, to develop better guidance on gender equality in the gem and jewelry sector. Topics to be covered include working conditions, facilities, and approaches to family leave.
  • Updating requirements on responsible mining: Many of the most challenging issues in the industry occur at the mining stage, and RJC continues to evolve its responsible mining provisions to address these challenges.
  • Reducing audit duplication: As it continues to work with jewelry industry members of all sizes, RJC continues to harmonize with and cross-recognize other industry initiatives already in place from other organizations so that businesses do not have to duplicate efforts at their own cost.

The consultation phase of the Code of Practices review is scheduled to run from April to July 2018. Announcements about the process can be found at

Jennifer-Lynn Archuleta is editor of Gems & Gemology.