The fact that luxury brands including jewelry and diamond companies need to pay close attention to sustainability issues and close the gap fast has been reiterated time and again. A recent good news on the front comes from the world’s largest polished diamonds buyer and world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry – US based Signet Jewelers, who has initiated a protocol on responsible sourcing of diamonds.
The Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocol for Diamonds (D-SRSP) has been developed with inputs from various associations, institutions and diamond industry players and “builds on existing diamond industry standards, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains”. The protocol aims to increase transparency and integrity of diamond supply chain and the company encourages everyone in the industry to use the protocol in their supply chains.
D-SRSP essentially requires suppliers of Signet to conduct a due diligence on their sources of diamonds, with the aim of mapping all the diamonds to an identified source. Though the industry has lauded this initiative, many sceptics are not sure about its successful implementation. The move is a step forward towards Responsible Jewelry Council’s (RJC) long-recommended Chain of Custody but isn’t there yet. As Ronald VanderLinden – President, Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association puts it “this is a ‘System of Warranties’ not a ‘Chain of Custody’”.
Though practical difficulties in implementation of the protocol are expected, Signet is well aware that it is an ongoing ‘work in progress’ and ‘continuous improvement’. However, to note, Signet has pulled such a feat earlier with gold, where its investigations led it to now account for 99% of the gold it uses. Similarly, the protocol may enable Signet to identify and verify the sources of some percentage of its diamonds, at least to begin with.
Other non-diamond jewelry businesses have also started to focus on ethical jewelry and though Signet’s responsible sourcing protocol for diamonds may not be the conclusive solution on the industry’s issues but it definitely is the right one step forward towards responsible sourcing.