In the past twenty years, the jewellery industry has faced numerous issues including blood diamonds, conflict gems and dirty gold. The industry and customers were also largely unaware of where their raw material came from and seldom cared. However, a lot has changed over the past few years and several jewelers have started to take note of these requirements as customers became more educated.
Way back in 1992, Tiffany & Co., one of the world’s most iconic jewellery makers, committed buying directly from mines which were known to have fair labor standards. This was when first reports of conflict diamonds started arising out of Sierra Leone and CSR was not yet mainstream. Tiffany also abides by the Kimberley Process, a certification system aimed at preventing blood diamonds and conflict minerals from entering the market. They also train their own employees to cut and polish stones in various locations like Belgium, Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Vietnam.
Recently, they launched their own sustainability website that talks about their sourcing policies, governance and charitable giving. This also coincided with their very first CSR report. At the launch of the website Michael J Kowalski, Chairman and CEO said:
“Our position as a leader in the luxury jewelry market gives us the opportunity and the responsibility to set an example for the industry and to conduct our business in a manner that is consistent with our core beliefs—protection of the environment, respect for human rights and support for the communities in which we do business.”
There are several sourcing policies that the company follows. All their gold, silver and platinum are sourced from responsibly mined metal deposits and recycled sources. The company also works with NGOs to improve mining standards. They have publicly opposed the New World gold mine which was planned outside Yellowstone National Park in 1995. More recently in 2004, they opposed a proposed gold mine in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness in Montana. Currently, they are pledging not to buy gold from the hotly contested Pebble Mine in Alaska which lies upstream from a breeding ground for sockeye salmon. For their US operations, all the gold and silver Tiffany’s uses comes from a single mine owned by Rio Tinto called Bingham Canyon.
Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue bags and boxes are as iconic as the brand itself. According to the online report, these are manufactured with materials certified by the FSC and their catalogues are also produced using over 99% FSC-certified material.
Their first report followed GRI’s sustainability framework and subsequent reports will feature year-on-year comparisons. The company has also joined United Nations Global Compact, that further shows their commitment towards aligning their operations in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP was engaged to provide limited assurance on select metrics set forth in the CSR report.
Tiffany’s hasn’t been one to brag about its CSR activities and this is part of the brand’s method of working – understated, subtle and timeless.