By Kathryn Lewis
The Responsible Jewellery Council plans to overhaul its code of practices in 2013, the not-for-profit group announced yesterday.
The current code of practices, which used to determine membership in the organisation, has been in effect since 2009. Companies wishing to join the RJC must meet strict certification standards within two years of joining.
Now the RJC is asking member groups for feedback on the new rules which will go into effect at the end of 2013.
“Overall, the objective is to ensure the Code of Practices is still delivering against expectations of responsible practices and taking account of any regulatory changes, “ a spokesperson for the group said.
Proposed changes include formally introducing platinum group and increasing clarity of applicability to laboratory-grown diamonds. The RJC will be looking a number of key issues as they revise the code. Discussions on issues like indigenous peoples and mining in conflict zones will be part of conversations with stakeholders.
Existing members will not be affected by the new rules until they apply for recertification. For those members who may be due to renew certification near the release date there will be a transition period of one year where both versions of the code will be accepted for certification.
According to a spokesperson for the group, the changes will not make it any harder for companies to become certified.
They added: “The changes aren’t meant to introduce barriers to membership and in fact most of the proposed changes aim to clarify the expectations of the Code of Practices and how it can be implemented, particularly for smaller businesses.
“There are some changed provisions relating to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which will require Members to carry out due diligence on their business and their suppliers, in a way that is appropriate to their size and circumstances. While this may be a new approach for some businesses, the benefit is that this kind of process can be used by jewellers to address core consumer confidence issues. The RJC Code of Practices will be able to provide a framework for jewellers to engage in this process, and RJC training and guidance will help them establish their responsible practices to meet stakeholder expectations.”
The detail of the proposed changes is contained in the consultation document available online, click here to see it. Feedback on the proposed changes is welcome and will be carefully considered as part of the review process.