About 90 million carats of rough diamonds and 1,600 tons of gold are mined for jewelry every year, generating over US $300 billion in revenue. Wrist bangles, rings and elaborate necklaces, are both a fashion statement and an expression of affluence in today's society. For Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, Americans spend more on jewelry than any other type of gift, purchasing nearly $10 billion of jewelry for the two holidays in 2017.
However, the conditions under which these precious materials are mined can be brutal. Human Rights Watch has published a 99-page report, “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry: Human Rights in Supply Chains and the Responsibility of Jewelry Companies," closely examining the sourcing of diamonds by 13 major jewelry and watch brands. Their findings are disappointing and horrifying. Mines cause pollution near waterways and soil which is detrimental to the health and livelihoods of whole communities. Abusive armed groups in certain areas have exploited gold and diamonds from local communities. Children have been injured and often killed during work in small-scale mining pits. Indigenous peoples near mines have been forcibly displaced.
Although their supply chains can be long and complex, jewelers and watchmakers have a responsibility to ensure that their operations do not contribute to human rights abuses at any point along those chains. There must be some accountability.
Read the full report now through Human Rights Watch, and explore the links below to learn about their ongoing campaign to clean up jewelry supply chains.