Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices
The Responsible Jewelry Code of Practices (COP) defines the requirements for establishing responsible business practices throughout the jewelry supply chain, from mine to retail.
The COP provides a common standard for ethical, social, human rights and environmental practices, and COP certification is mandatory for all RJC commercial members. COP certification provides a strong system for assuring stakeholders, shareholders, customers and business partners that a company conducts its business responsibly. This can add value to a company’s products and help protect and enhance its brands.
More importantly, COP certification can reduce risks and vulnerabilities in a company’s supply chain and improve management systems and operating procedures to strengthen the business and make it more sustainable. It simultaneously leads to better social and environmental conditions within the broader industry, bringing positive impacts for workers, communities and environments alike.
COP at a Glance
- Provides a common standard for responsible business practices from mine to retail.
- Requires third-party auditing and is mandatory for all RJC members.
- Builds on and supports international standards and development goals.
- Is designed to improve ethical, social, human rights and environmental conditions.
- Applies to gold, silver, PGM, diamond and colored gemstone supply chains.
The COP can be applied to any size of business, and its scope includes all sectors of the gold, silver, PGM, diamond and colored gemstone jewelry supply chain. The RJC’s aim is to include all sectors of all colored gemstones used in the jewelry supply chain over time. The initial scope in this 2019 version of the COP is all sectors of the rubies, sapphires and emeralds jewelry supply chain. The option to expand to include all other colored gemstones will be assessed within two years of the publication of this 2019 version of the COP. Until the COP is subsequently updated, references to the ‘colored gemstone supply chain’ in the COP means rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
The sectors covered by the COP include exploration and mining; refining and alloying; cutting and polishing; trading, hedging and wholesaling; manufacturing; retailing; and service industries, such as gemmological laboratories, assayers and secure transport providers.
The COP is made up of 42 provisions that are specifically designed for companies to fulfil six broad objectives:
GENERAL REQUIREMENTS: To improve legal and regulatory compliance, strengthen public reporting and secure a commitment to responsible business practices.
RESPONSIBLE SUPPLY CHAIN, HUMAN RIGHTS & DUE DILIGENCE: To increase the use of due diligence in supply chains to uphold human rights, support community development, promote anti-corruption efforts and manage sourcing risks.
LABOR RIGHTS & WORKING CONDITIONS: To better comply with international labor conventions and ensure responsible working conditions.
HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT: To protect the health and safety of both people and environments, and to use natural resources efficiently.
GOLD, SILVER, PGM, DIAMOND & COLORED GEMSTONE PRODUCTS: To adequately control, and disclose information about, products and so avoid misleading or deceptive marketing practices.
RESPONSIBLE MINING: To secure responsible exploration and mining practices that protect potentially affected communities and environments from adverse impacts.
1 LEGAL COMPLIANCE
1.1 Members shall have systems in place that maintain awareness of, and ensure compliance with, applicable law.
2 POLICY AND IMPLEMENTATION
2.1 Members shall adopt a policy/policies that documents their commitment to responsible business practices, is endorsed by senior management, is actively communicated to employees and is made publicly available.
2.2 Senior management shall conduct, at least annually, reviews to assess the ongoing suitability and adequacy of the member’s business practices in achieving the policy and implement improvements to address any gaps.
3.1 Members shall communicate publicly and directly with stakeholders at least annually on their business practices relevant to the COP.
3.2 Members with mining facilities shall publicly report annually on their sustainability performance using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Standards or comparable reporting guidelines. The reports shall have external assurance.
4 FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS
4.1 Members shall maintain financial accounts of all business transactions in accordance with national or international accounting standards.
4.2 Members shall annually undertake a financial audit or financial review, in jurisdictions where permitted, by an independent qualified accountant.
RESPONSIBLE SUPPLY CHAINS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND DUE DILIGENCE
5 BUSINESS PARTNERS
5.1 Members shall use their best endeavors, commensurate with their ability to influence to promote responsible business practices among their significant business partners.
5.2 All employees and visitors to the member’s facilities shall be required to comply with the member’s policies, systems and procedures relevant to the COP.
6 HUMAN RIGHTS
6.1 Members shall respect human rights by considering all potential and actual impacts in their operations and business relationships. They shall also commit to, and implement, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as appropriate to their size and circumstances.
As a minimum, members shall:
a. Have a policy commitment, endorsed at the highest level of their organization, to respect human rights within their operations and business relationships, and procedures for implementing the policy in alignment with COP 2 (Policy and implementation).
b. Have a human rights due diligence process to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for adverse human rights impacts that are connected to their business.
c. Provide for, or support legitimate processes to enable, the remedy of any adverse human rights impacts that they have caused, contributed to or been linked with.
d. Communicate annually with stakeholders about their human rights due diligence efforts and remedy activities in accordance with COP 3 (Reporting).
7 DUE DILIGENCE FOR RESPONSIBLE SOURCING FROM CONFLICT-AFFECTED AND HIGH-RISK AREAS
7.1 Members in the gold, silver, PGM, diamonds and colored gemstones supply chain shall exercise due diligence over their supply chains in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (the ‘OECD Guidance’) or other auditable due diligence frameworks recognized by the RJC to be aligned with the OECD Guidance (‘RJC-recognized due diligence frameworks’), in ways appropriate to their size and circumstances. In addition:
a. Members in the gold value chain shall implement the OECD Guidance Supplement on Gold as applicable to their operations and supply chains.
b. Members in the diamond supply chain shall implement the OECD Guidance while complying with COP 29 (Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and World Diamond Council System of Warranties).
7.2 Members shall adopt and communicate publicly and to their suppliers a supply chain policy with respect to sourcing from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The policy shall be consistent at a minimum with Annex II of the OECD Guidance or with other RJC-recognized due diligence frameworks.
7.3 Refiner members shall:
a. Maintain internal material control systems that can reconcile movement of inventory in and out over a given time.
b. Gold refiners shall additionally collect and, with due regard to business confidentiality, share annually information with the RJC on the mine of origin of mined gold received.
8 SOURCING DIRECTLY FROM ARTISANAL AND SMALL-SCALE MINING
8.1 Members that source gold, silver, PGM, diamonds and/or colored gemstones directly from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) producers that are not under their control shall:
a. Regularly assess risks outlined in COP 7 (Due diligence for responsible sourcing
from conflict-affected and high-risk areas) and also risks of unsafe working conditions, uncontrolled mercury use and significant environmental impacts (including impacts to biodiversity), and seek opportunities for ASM community development in line with
b. Use best endeavors to positively influence practices by working to:
i. Reduce or avoid risks and provide for, or co-operate in, remedying adverse human rights and environmental impacts. Measurable risk mitigation should aim to promote significant improvement within a defined period from the adoption of the risk management plan.
ii. Support development opportunities for ASM communities.
iii. Actively participate in initiatives, including multi-stakeholder ones, that enable the professionalization, formalization and/or certification of ASM, as appropriate to the situation.
iv. Seek to understand fair commercial terms and offer these to all ASM suppliers.
9 SOURCING POST-CONSUMER INDUSTRIAL PRECIOUS METALS DIRECTLY FROM INFORMAL RECYCLERS
9.1 Members that source gold, silver and/or PGM directly from informal recyclers that are not under their control shall:
a. Regularly assess risks outlined in COP 7 (Due diligence for responsible sourcing from conflict-affected and high-risk areas) and risks of unsafe working conditions, exposure to toxic chemicals and metals, and other significant environmental impacts; and seek opportunities for the development of informal recycling communities in line with COP 10 (Community development).
b. Use best endeavors to positively influence practices by working to:
i. Reduce or avoid risks and provide for or cooperate in remedying adverse human rights and environmental impacts. Measurable risk mitigation should aim to promote significant improvement within a defined period from the adoption of the risk management plan.
ii. Support development opportunities for informal recycling communities.
10 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
10.1 Members shall seek to support the social, economic and institutional development of the communities in which they operate and support community initiatives.
11 BRIBERY AND FACILITATION PAYMENTS
11.1 Members shall establish policy/policies and procedures that:
a. Prohibit bribery in all business practices and transactions carried out by themselves and by agents acting on their behalf.
b. Protect employees from any penalty or adverse consequences for identifying in good faith concerns related to suspected bribery, refusing to participate in bribery or refusing to pay a facilitation payment where facilitation payments are prohibited, even if this action may result in the enterprise losing business.
c. Set the criteria and approval procedures for employees to follow when offering and/or accepting gifts to or from third parties.
11.2 Members shall have systems in place to manage bribery risk in their organization. The systems shall include:
a. Identification and monitoring of those parts of their business that pose high risk of participation in bribery.
b. Training of relevant managers and employees on policies and procedures.
c. Recording of relevant gifts to and from third parties in a gift register, as per the member’s policy.
d. A whistle-blowing or other mechanism for employees or stakeholders to raise concerns.
e. Investigation of any incidences of suspected bribery within their organization.
f. Sanctions for bribery and attempted bribery.
11.3 Where facilitation payments are allowed by applicable law, members shall:
a. Act to eliminate all facilitation payments or to reduce the size and frequency of facilitation payments over time.
b. Ensure that any facilitation payments are of limited nature and scope.
c. Implement controls to monitor, oversee and fully account for any facilitation payments made by them or made on their behalf.
12 KNOW YOUR COUNTERPARTY: MONEY LAUNDERING AND FINANCE OF TERRORISM
12.1 Members shall document and apply a Know Your Counterparty (KYC) policy and procedures for business partners that are suppliers and customers of gold, silver, PGM, diamonds, colored gemstones or jewelry products containing these materials. The policy and procedures shall:
a. Establish the identity of the counterparty by checking government-issued identification. Where triggered by a risk assessment or applicable law, establish the beneficial ownership and principals of the counterparty.
b. Verify that the counterparty and, if applicable, their beneficial owners are not named on relevant government lists for individuals or organizations implicated in money laundering, fraud or involvement with prohibited organizations and/or those financing conflict.
c. Maintain an understanding of the nature and legitimacy of their business.
d. Monitor transactions for unusual or suspicious activity and report suspicions of money laundering or finance of terrorism to the relevant authority as applicable.
e. Maintain adequate records for either five years minimum or as long as required by national legislation, whichever is longer.
12.2 Members shall nominate an individual to be responsible for implementing the KYC policy and procedures.
12.3 Members’ KYC policy and procedures shall be up to date and appropriate, and shall include training, documentation procedures and regular reviews.
12.4 Members shall maintain records of all single or apparently linked cash or cash-like transactions equal to or above 10,000 euros/US dollars or the threshold defined by applicable law (whichever is lower). Where required by law, members shall report such transactions to the relevant designated authority.
13.1 Members shall assess security risks and establish measures that protect employees, contractors, visitors and personnel employed by relevant business partners against product theft, damage or substitution of products within the premises and during events, exhibitions and shipments.
13.2 Members shall ensure that all security personnel respect the human rights and dignity of all people and use force only when strictly necessary and the minimum proportionate to the threat.
13.3 Members with mining facilities shall ensure that their security approaches are consistent with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. In particular, members shall:
a. Carry out a risk assessment to evaluate security risks and the potential for human rights abuses.
b. Contract or otherwise engage with public and private security in a way that helps protect human rights.
13.4 Members whose business is to provide private security services to the jewelry supply chain shall be certified members of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA).
14 PROVENANCE CLAIMS
14.1 Members shall check whether they make any provenance claims that apply under this provision.
14.2 Members that make one or more provenance claims shall:
a. Have systems to ensure that the provenance claims are truthful and substantiated by evidence.
b. Do training to ensure that employees who are responsible for implementing the claims and responding to product enquiries, understand the claims and can explain them accurately.
c. Make further information available to customers who ask about a provenance claim.
d. Have a complaints or grievance mechanism appropriate to the nature, scale and impact of the business to allow interested parties to voice concerns.
14.3 Members who sell directly to consumers must make available at the point of sale, and on their website, further detail about the claim/s being made, and the systems in place to achieve them.
LABOR RIGHTS AND WORKING CONDITIONS
15 GENERAL EMPLOYMENT TERMS
15.1 Members shall ensure that employment terms with regards to wages, working hours and other employment conditions are communicated to employees in writing before employment starts, in a language that is understood by them.
15.2 Members shall not avoid fulfilling legal labor and social security obligations to employees by using labor-only contracts, false apprenticeship schemes, excessive consecutive short-term employment contracts, and/or subcontracting or homeworking arrangements.
15.3 Members shall maintain appropriate employee records, including records of piece-rate and wage payments as well as working hours, for all employees, whether on a full-time, part-time or seasonal basis.
16 WORKING HOURS
16.1 Members shall comply with applicable law on working hours. The normal working week, not including overtime, shall not exceed 48 hours.
16.2 If overtime work is required for business needs, members shall ensure that:
a. They strive to use voluntary systems for overtime work. Required overtime is only acceptable where it is allowed under applicable law or collective bargaining agreements, within the limits defined by COP 16 and outlined in employment contracts.
b. In all other circumstances, overtime work shall be requested under a voluntary system and within limits set under applicable law or collective bargaining agreements. The imposition of overtime where employees cannot leave the work premises or are in any way forced to accept it (through abuse, threats of dismissal or other) is not allowed. Refusal to work overtime shall not be punished, retaliated against or penalized in any way.
c. The sum of the normal working week and overtime hours shall not exceed 60 hours in a week unless defined otherwise by applicable law or a collective bargaining agreement, or unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as production peaks, accidents or emergencies), which will be assessed as outlined in the guidance for COP 16. In all cases, members shall take appropriate safeguards to protect the workers’ health and safety.
16.3 Members shall provide all employees with at least one rest day in seven consecutive working days in accordance with International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 14. Work time exceeding this limit is only allowed if:
a. A collective bargaining agreement or applicable law allows for work-time averaging including adequate rest periods; or
b. During peak production periods, so long as the longer work time is rare, voluntarily performed, and compensated at the appropriate premium level established by law or a collective bargaining agreement, or where unregulated by either, at a premium rate at least equal to the prevailing industry standards.
16.4 Members shall provide employees with all legally mandated public holidays and leave, including maternity and paternity, compassionate and paid annual leave. Where no applicable law exists, three weeks’ paid annual leave shall be provided, in accordance with ILO Convention 132. Special leave or working-time arrangements for employees with family responsibilities shall apply to all employees regardless of gender.
16.5 Members shall provide all employees with a workday break in accordance with applicable law. If there is no applicable law, then members shall provide employees with at least one uninterrupted work break of reasonable duration if they work longer than six hours.
17.1 Members shall pay all employees a wage rate for normal hours worked, not including overtime, based on the higher of either the applicable legal minimum wage, plus associated statutory benefits, or the prevailing industry standards. Wages paid on
a performance-related basis shall not be less than the legal minimum wage for a normal working week. Members shall ensure that comparable wages are given to all employees for carrying out work of equal value with processes to assess and remediate any potential wage disparity that discriminates against any category of workers.
17.2 Members shall reimburse overtime work at a rate at least equal to that required by applicable law or a collective bargaining agreement or, where unregulated by either, at a premium rate at least equal to the prevailing industry standards.
17.3 Members shall make wage payments to employees in accordance with the law that are:
a. Regular and predetermined, and not delayed or deferred.
b. By bank transfer to an account controlled by the employee, or in cash or cheque form in a manner and location convenient to the employees.
c. Accompanied by a wage slip that clearly details wage rates, benefits and deductions where applicable, and is in a format that employees can easily understand.
d. If employment agencies are used, members shall have systems to ensure equitable compensation and workplace standards, and to ensure that wages are effectively received by employees, including migrant, contract, contingent and temporary employees.
17.4 Members shall only make deductions from wages if these deductions:
a. Comply with the law and, if applicable, are governed by collective bargaining agreements.
b. Are determined and calculated following a documented due process that is clearly communicated to employees.
c. Do not result in an employee making less than the minimum wage.
17.5 Members shall not make deductions for disciplinary purposes.
17.6 Members shall not force employees to buy provisions or services from their own business or facilities; where there is no alternative, members shall not charge excessive rates for these.
17.7 Members that provide wage advances or loans shall ensure that the interest and repayment terms are transparent and fair, and not deceptive to the employee.
17.8 Members shall ensure that all benefits are given to employees in accordance with applicable law.
18 HARASSMENT, DISCIPLINE, GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES AND NON-RETALIATION
18.1 All forms of violence and harassment in the workplace are prohibited, including but not limited to corporal punishment; harsh or degrading treatment; sexual or physical harassment; mental, physical, verbal or sexual abuse; retaliation; coercion; and intimidation. Both direct and indirect harassment in any form is not acceptable in workplace facilities. Members shall ensure that employees are treated with dignity and respect and are not subjected to harassment or violence, or threatened with these towards themselves, their family or colleagues.
18.2 Doctors, nurses and key personnel among security staff, managers or others shall be regularly trained to recognize signs of gender-based violence and understand relevant laws and organizational policies.
18.3 Members shall clearly and actively communicate their disciplinary process and related standards on appropriate disciplinary procedures and employee treatment, and apply these equally to all management and staff.
18.4 Members shall have clear, confidential and unbiased grievance procedures and investigation processes and actively communicate these to all employees.
a. Employees acting individually or with other workers shall be free to submit a grievance without suffering any penalty or retaliation.
b. Grievance procedures shall be designed to function effectively and reach a timely outcome.
c. Records shall be kept of employee grievances raised, investigation processes and outcomes.
d. The selection of individuals to manage and assess the grievances shall be sensitive to the situation and strive to ensure gender balance.
18.5 Members shall have a policy and management systems to avoid retaliation for individuals filing complaints or engaging with the grievance procedure, in line with COP 2 (Policy and implementation).
19 CHILD LABOR
19.1 Members shall not engage in or support child labor as defined in ILO Convention 138 and Recommendation 146, which set the following minimum ages for work:
a. A basic minimum working age of 15 years, to enable children to complete compulsory schooling.
b. Members operating in countries where compulsory schooling ends earlier than 15 years can start RJC membership while allowing a minimum working age of 14 (subject to applicable law) but shall transition to a minimum working age of 15 by the end of their first certification period.
19.2 Members shall not engage in or support the worst forms of child labor as defined in ILO Convention 182 and Recommendation 190, which includes:
a. Hazardous child labor, which by its nature or circumstances is likely to jeopardise the health, safety or morals of persons younger than 18 years. Where allowed by applicable law and supported by risk assessment and controls under COP 23 (Health and safety), a minimum age of 16 is allowed on condition that the health, safety and morals of the children concerned are fully protected, and that the children have received adequate specific instruction or vocational training in the relevant branch of activity.
b. All forms of child slavery and practices similar to slavery, including debt bondage, the trafficking of children, forced child labor and the use of children in armed conflict.
20 FORCED LABOR
20.1 Members shall not engage in or support the use of forced labor, including bonded, indentured or involuntary prison labor as defined in ILO Convention 29.
20.2 Members shall ensure that all employees are working in voluntary situations. Members shall not:
a. Unduly restrict the freedom of movement of employees in the workplace or in on-site housing.
b. Retain original copies of an employee’s personal documentation, such as identity papers.
c. Use deceptive recruitment practices and/or require employees to pay any deposits, equipment advances or recruitment fees (either wholly or partially) as part of the recruitment process. If any such fees are found to have been paid by employees, they shall be reimbursed.
d. Withhold any part of an employee’s salary, benefits or property to force an employee to continue working.
e. Prevent employees from terminating their employment after reasonable notice or as established by applicable law.
20.3 Members shall not engage in or support human trafficking or any other type of deceptive recruitment and/or bonded labor practices. Members shall clearly communicate this requirement to labor recruiters, agencies and providers with whom they work, and shall monitor their relationships and remedy negative human rights impacts as they may occur, as defined in COP 6.1 (Human rights).
21 FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
21.1 Members shall respect the right of employees to associate freely in workers’ organizations of their choice, without interference or negative consequences. Members shall ensure that employees seeking to form or join an organization of their own choosing are not subject to any form of harassment as outlined in COP 18.1 (Harassment, discipline, grievance procedures and non-retaliation).
21.2 Members shall respect the right of employees to collective bargaining, and shall adhere to collective bargaining agreements, where these exist. Members shall, subject to applicable law, participate in any collective bargaining processes in good faith.
21.3 Where legislation restricts the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, members shall not obstruct alternative means that are allowable under applicable law.
22.1 Members shall not practice or condone any form of discrimination in the workplace in terms of hiring, continued employment, remuneration, overtime, access to training, professional development, promotion, termination or retirement. This includes discrimination based on race, color, ethnicity, caste, national origin, religion, disability or genetic information, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, marital status, parental or pregnancy status, physical appearance, HIV status, age or any other personal characteristic unrelated to the inherent requirements of the work. Members shall ensure that all individuals who are ‘fit for work’ are given equal opportunities and are not discriminated against on the basis of factors unrelated to their ability to perform their job.
HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT
23 HEALTH AND SAFETY
23.1 Members shall provide safe and healthy working conditions for all employees in accordance with applicable law and other relevant industry standards.
23.2 Members shall provide and maintain workplaces, and on-site housing where relevant, with:
a. Safe and accessible potable drinking water.
b. Sanitary facilities for eating and storing food.
c. Clean and hygienic washing and toilet facilities commensurate with the number and gender of staff employed.
d. Fire safety equipment and alarms.
e. Clearly marked, unlocked and unblocked emergency exits and escape routes.
f. Access to adequate power supply and emergency lighting.
g. Childcare and breastfeeding facilities in accordance with applicable law.
h. Suitable conditions for pregnant or nursing women, or alternative working arrangements to avoid unsuitable workplaces.
23.3 Members shall assess the risks of workplace hazards and implement controls to minimize the risks of accidents and injury to employees. The risk assessment shall consider hazards associated with the members’ activities and products which shall include, where relevant, use of machinery and mobile equipment; storage and handling of chemicals including cleaning materials; exposure to excessive fumes, airborne particles, noise and temperature levels, and/or inadequate lighting and ventilation; repetitive strain activities; considerations for any workers under 18 years of age and expectant mothers; and general hygiene and housekeeping issues.
23.4 Members shall provide employees with a mechanism, such as a joint health and safety committee, by which they can raise and discuss health and safety issues with management.
23.5 Members shall provide training and information about health and safety to employees in a form and language they can understand. This will include training and information on:
a. Specific role-related health and safety hazards and controls.
b. Appropriate action in the event of an accident or emergency.
c. Fire safety and emergency procedures.
d. First-aid training for designated employee representatives.
e. Workers’ right and responsibility to stop work or refuse to work in situations with uncontrolled hazards, and to immediately flag these situations to those at imminent risk and to management.
23.6 Members shall ensure that appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided free of charge and verify that it is current and correctly worn or used.
23.7 Members shall provide access to adequate on-site first-aid provisions and trained first-aid personnel, have appropriate procedures for transportation to local medical facilities in the case of a medical emergency and assist workers with work-related injuries to physically access medical treatment in accordance with country law and company policy.
23.8 Members shall establish emergency procedures and evacuation plans for all reasonably foreseeable health and safety emergencies. These shall be accessible or clearly displayed, regularly tested (including through evacuation drills) and periodically updated.
23.9 Members shall investigate health and safety incidents and feed the results into reviews of relevant hazard controls to identify opportunities for improvement.
23.10 Members engaged in the cutting and polishing of diamonds and/or colored gemstones shall use cobalt-free diamond-impregnated scaifes.
24 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
24.1 Members shall establish an environmental management system.
24.2 Members shall provide training and information about environmental risks and controls to all relevant employees. These shall be given in a format and language that workers can easily understand.
25 HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES
25.1 Members shall maintain an inventory of hazardous substances at facilities. Safety data sheets (or equivalent) shall be accessible wherever hazardous substances are used and their associated risks shall be clearly and actively communicated to all employees who work with them.
25.2 Members shall not manufacture, trade or use chemicals and hazardous substances subject to international bans. Any hazardous substances subject to international phase-outs shall not be manufactured or traded and their use shall be phased out in accordance with the regulation.
25.3 Wherever technically feasible and economically viable, members shall use alternatives to hazardous substances in their business processes.
26 WASTES AND EMISSIONS
26.1 Members shall identify significant wastes and emissions to air, water and land generated in their business processes in accordance with COP 24 (Environmental management).
26.2 Members shall responsibly manage the identified wastes and emissions. In particular, they shall:
a. Quantify wastes and emissions to manage and monitor trends over time and drive continuous improvement in environmental performance.
b. Apply the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and recover to minimize environmental impact where applicable, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency in alignment with COP 27 (Use of natural resources).
c. Discharge or dispose of wastes and emissions in compliance with applicable law or, where applicable law does not exist, in line with prevailing international standards.
27 USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES
27.1 In alignment with the approach required for COP 24 (Environmental management), members shall monitor energy and water use in their business and establish energy and water efficiency initiatives.
27.2 Members shall identify other significant natural resources used in their business and seek to ensure their efficient use.
27.3 Members shall work towards using renewable energy in alignment with national frameworks, targets and/or legislation.
27.4 Members in the mining sector shall:
a. Apply strong and transparent water governance, including policies, procedures and clear allocation of responsibilities.
b. Manage water at facilities effectively using a water balance and considering cumulative impacts.
c. Publicly report company water performance in line with COP 3 (Reporting).
d. Collaborate with stakeholders to achieve responsible and sustainable water use at a water catchment level.
GOLD, SILVER, PGM, DIAMOND AND COLORED GEMSTONE PRODUCTS
28 PRODUCT DISCLOSURE
28.1 Members shall not make any untruthful, misleading or deceptive representation, or make any material omission in the selling, advertising or marketing of any gold, silver and PGM materials, jewelry products, diamonds, colored gemstones, or treated, synthetic, reconstructed, composite or simulant diamonds or colored gemstones. Members shall follow internationally accepted standards.
28.2 Members shall disclose information on the physical characteristics of the materials listed in COP 28.1 in compliance with applicable law. Unless a conflict with applicable law exists, members shall apply the following requirements to support disclosure about physical characteristics:
a. Gold, silver and PGM: The fineness of gold, silver or PGM shall be accurately disclosed. The description of fineness or content shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘gold’, ‘silver’ or the PGM or abbreviation. Any quality marks used shall be applied
in accordance with applicable law or industry standards.
b. Plating: The use of gold, silver and PGM as a plating material shall be accurately disclosed. The description of the plating and fineness or content of material used shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘gold’, ‘silver’ or the PGM or abbreviation.
c. Treatments: Treated diamonds and treated or heated colored gemstones shall be disclosed as either ‘treated’ or with specific reference to the treatment. The description shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘diamond’ or the name of the colored gemstone. Any special care requirements that the treatment creates shall be disclosed.
d. Synthetics: Wholly or partially synthetic diamonds or synthetic colored gemstones shall be disclosed as ‘laboratory created’, ‘laboratory grown’ and/or ‘synthetic’. The description shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘diamond’ or the name
of the colored gemstone.
e. Composites: Composite (or assembled) diamonds and colored gemstones constructed of two or more parts shall be disclosed as ‘composite’, ‘assembled’, ‘doublet’ or ‘triplet’, and by the correct name of the material of which it is composed. The description shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘diamond’ or the name of the colored gemstone used.
f. Reconstructed stones: Reconstructed diamonds and colored gemstones shall
be disclosed as such and the description shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘diamond’ or the name of the colored gemstone.
g. Simulants (or imitation): Any artificial product used to imitate the appearance of diamonds or colored gemstones without having their chemical composition, physical properties and/or their structure shall be disclosed as ‘imitation’ or ‘simulant’ along with the correct name of the material of which it is composed, for example, ‘x compound’, ‘glass’, ‘plastic’. The description shall be equally conspicuous as the word ‘diamond’
or the name of the colored gemstone.
h. Descriptions of polished diamonds and colored gemstones: Describe the size or carat weight, color, clarity or cut of diamonds and the quality of colored gemstones in accordance with the recognized guidelines appropriate to the particular jurisdiction.
i. Place of origin for colored gemstones: When describing the place of origin of a colored gemstone, the information on how this was determined shall be disclosed. The place of origin shall only be used when it denotes a geographical area where gemstones have been mined.
j. Product health and safety information: Any relevant health and safety information about the materials listed in COP 28.1 in jewelry products sold by members to end consumers shall be disclosed.
28.3 Members shall take substantive and documented action to avoid buying or selling undisclosed synthetic diamonds. To that end, members buying or selling diamonds shall:
a. Obtain a written warranty from their suppliers.
b. Have effective policies, procedures, training and monitoring systems in place to avoid the possibility of undisclosed synthetic diamonds being switched for natural diamonds at their facilities.
c. Employ a documented due diligence process to identify and mitigate risks related to undisclosed synthetic diamonds entering their supply chain. Identify possible high-risk contamination points.
d. For polished diamonds classified as high risk, carry out testing using a defined, credible and transparent protocol. This can be an existing industry-accepted protocol or one that is defined by the member. The protocol must:
e. Incorporate an appropriate approach for testing loose and set polished diamonds.
f. Include either in-house testing, using relevant and effective detection equipment, or outsourced testing by a qualified service provider, such as a gemological laboratory.
g. Include testing at least once at a point in the process where there is no longer any risk of introducing undisclosed synthetics before the diamond parcel is sold. This is normally just before sale.
h. Be available to clients, including the procedure for managing test referrals.
29 KIMBERLEY PROCESS CERTIFICATION SCHEME AND WORLD DIAMOND COUNCIL SYSTEM OF WARRANTIES
29.1 Members shall neither knowingly buy or sell conflict diamonds nor help others to do so.
29.2 Members involved in the international trade of rough diamonds shall comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) minimum requirements and recommendations as incorporated into the applicable legislation of countries where they operate.
29.3 Members involved in buying and selling diamonds, whether rough, polished or set in jewelry, shall adopt the World Diamond Council System of Warranties (SoW).
29.4 Members shall ensure that all employees who buy or sell diamonds are well informed about trade association resolutions and government restrictions prohibiting the trade in conflict diamonds.
30 GRADING, ANALYSIS AND APPRAISAL
30.1 Members that generate independent reports on grading, analysis and appraisal shall have systems in place, based on scientific methodology, that are sufficiently thorough and comprehensive to produce valid and reproducible results.
30.2 Members that generate independent diamond grading and/or coloured gemstone analysis reports shall identify whether detection of synthetics and/or any treatments are part of the assessment and whether this has been carried out for all stones.
30.3 Members that generate independent place of origin reports for coloured gemstones shall have systems in place, based on scientific methodology, to ensure consistency of the determination of origin. They shall also carry out detection of treatments and synthetics as part of the determination.
30.4 Members that generate independent reports for end consumers with an opinion on monetary value shall include the name of the consumer to whom the report is given and a statement of the purpose of the appraisal.
30.5 Members that offer directly to end consumers diamond grading reports, colored gemstone analysis and/or place of origin reports, or appraisal reports that might reasonably be construed to be independent shall disclose any relevant vested interests held by the grader, analyst or appraiser in the sale of the jewelry product.
30.6 Members shall not mislead end consumers.
31 EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE
31.1 Members in the mining sector shall support implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in EITI implementing countries.
31.2 In all countries, members shall:
a. Promote transparency throughout the mining industry, helping public debate and providing opportunities for sustainable development.
b. As a guiding principle, aim to publicly disclose taxes and payments in all countries of operation. Where companies choose not to, they should state why not.
c. Aim to publicly disclose beneficial owners.
d. Engage in rigorous procurement processes, including due diligence in respect to partners and vendors.
e. Support countries to put into practice their decisions to disclose future licenses and contracts.
f. Work with governments to deliver natural resources in a way that benefits societies and communities.
g. Ensure that company processes are appropriate to deliver the data required for high standards of accountability.
32 STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
32.1 Members in the mining sector shall carry out stakeholder engagement. The engagement shall be used to identify community development priorities and support activities that contribute to lasting social and economic well-being. This includes considering the interests of affected communities in key mining decisions in the mining lifecycle and seeking broad community support for proposals.
32.2 Members in the mining sector shall have systems for early and ongoing engagement with affected communities and other relevant stakeholders. These systems shall:
a. Draw on appropriate skills, resources and suitably experienced personnel.
b. Apply throughout the mining lifecycle.
c. Identify affected communities and the full diversity of relevant stakeholders including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in relation to project risks, impacts and phase of development, and ensure these are effectively and meaningfully represented throughout the mining lifecycle.
d. Establish effective communication channels to disseminate relevant project information and receive feedback in an inclusive, equitable, culturally appropriate and rights- compatible way.
32.3 Members in the mining sector shall ensure that affected communities have access to
a rights-compatible complaints and grievance mechanism at the operational level for raising and resolving disputes, and shall actively communicate its availability to affected communities. The grievance mechanism shall be easily accessible, easily understood and transparent. Grievances shall be addressed within clear timelines, and records shall be kept of grievances raised, investigation processes completed and outcomes.
33 INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND FREE PRIOR INFORMED CONSENT
33.1 Members in the mining sector that operate in regions where indigenous peoples are present shall respect the rights of indigenous peoples as articulated and defined in applicable local, national and international laws and their social, cultural, environmental and economic interests, including their connection with lands and waters.
33.2 Provision 33.2 applies to new mining facilities, or for changes to existing facilities, that are likely to have significant adverse impacts on indigenous peoples including, but not limited to, those associated with:
- Impacts on lands and natural resources subject to traditional ownership or under customary use.
- Relocation of indigenous peoples from lands and natural resources subject to traditional ownership or under customary use.
- Significant impacts on critical cultural heritage that is essential to indigenous peoples ’identity and/or their cultures, ceremonies or spiritualities.
- Use of cultural heritage (including indigenous peoples’ knowledge, innovations or practices) for commercial purposes.
Members in the mining sector shall, as described in International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 7:
a. Work to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of affected indigenous peoples during the planning and approval stages, through a process that is based on good faith negotiation and strives to be consistent with their traditional decision-making processes while respecting internationally recognized human rights.
b. Document the mutually accepted process between the member, the affected indigenous peoples and relevant government authorities, and document the evidence of agreement between the parties and the outcome of the negotiations including compensation, if applicable.
33.3 Where FPIC is found not to apply, members in the mining sector shall seek to obtain broad- based support of affected indigenous peoples before carrying out any new or expanded activities and seek to maintain it throughout the mining lifecycle. This support shall be formally documented before the project begins. The documentation shall include any compensation, partnerships and/or programs to provide benefits and mitigate impacts.
34 IMPACT ASSESSMENT
34.1 When planning and approving new mining projects or significant changes to existing projects, members in the mining sector shall complete an environmental and social (including human rights) impact assessment (ESIA), and develop an associated environmental and social management system.
34.2 Impact assessments shall be comprehensive, appropriate to the nature and scale of the project, and shall collectively assess:
a. Baseline conditions.
b. Environmental, social and human rights impacts, including but not limited to impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, labor and employment, gender, health and conflict. This includes cumulative and indirect impacts.
c. Design options to avoid and minimize negative impacts where applicable. Environmental and social impact assessments and management systems shall engage affected communities and stakeholders, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. A report on the ESIA shall be publicly disclosed in a format and language appropriate to affected communities and key stakeholders.
35 ARTISANAL AND SMALL-SCALE MINING AND LARGE- SCALE MINING
35.1 Members in the mining sector shall, where artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) not under their control occurs within their areas of operation:
a. Engage directly with the ASM community as appropriate and seek to maintain a continuous dialogue with them as a distinct group within the stakeholder engagement program (COP 32 Stakeholder engagement), social and environmental impact assessment and ongoing risk management activities (COP 34 Impact assessment).
b. Actively participate in initiatives, including multi-stakeholder ones, that enable the professionalization, formalization and certification of ASM, as appropriate to the situation.
36.1 Members in the mining sector shall avoid involuntary resettlement. Where resettlement is unavoidable, it shall be minimized and appropriate measures to mitigate adverse impacts shall be carefully planned and implemented, consistent with International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 5.This includes consideration of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
37 EMERGENCY RESPONSE
37.1 Members in the mining sector shall develop and maintain emergency response plans
in collaboration with potentially affected communities, workers and their representatives, and relevant agencies, in accordance with UN Environment guidance on Awareness
and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL) for Mining. This shall be developed with COP 23.2 (Health and safety) and should include due consideration of any emergencies arising within the facility that have the potential to impact off-site areas.
38.1 Members in the mining sector shall not explore or mine in World Heritage sites and shall ensure that their activities do not negatively impact directly on adjacent World Heritage sites.
38.2 Members in the mining sector shall respect legally designated protected areas by ensuring that they:
a. Have a process to identify nearby legally designated protected areas.
b. Comply with any regulations, covenants or commitments attributed to these areas.
c. Take impacts on legally designated protected areas into account when making decisions throughout the mining lifecycle.
38.3 Members in the mining sector shall identify Key Biodiversity Areas affected by their operations and:
a. Use the mitigation hierarchy to avoid, minimize and rehabilitate impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Offsets to address the residual impact shall only be employed after these steps are applied.
b. Implement action plans to deliver measurable biodiversity benefits that are at least commensurate with the level of adverse impacts and ideally provide a net gain.
c. In areas of critical habitat, ensure there are no measurable adverse impacts (no net loss) on the criteria for which the habitat was designated or on the ecological processes supporting those criteria, and provide an overall net gain in biodiversity benefits for the area.
38.4 Members in the mining sector shall implement controls to ensure that their operations will not lead to the significant decline (no net loss) of a threatened species, as listed by the IUCN, or create adverse impacts on the habitat critical to supporting their survival.
38.5 Members in the mining sector shall not carry out exploration or mining activities, including tailings disposal, in deep sea areas until they have sufficient scientific knowledge of potential impacts of their activities and evidence that controls can be implemented to mitigate adverse impacts.
39 TAILINGS AND WASTE ROCK
39.1 Members in the mining sector shall carry out physical and geochemical characterisations of mine tailings and waste rock.
39.2 Members in the mining sector shall design, construct, maintain, monitor and close all tailings and waste rock facilities and supporting infrastructure to:
a. Ensure structural stability and take measures to prevent catastrophic failures.
b. Ensure controlled discharge and protect the surrounding environment and local communities from potential impacts of acidification, metal leaching, loss of containment or contamination, including contamination of groundwater during the mine’s operation and post-closure.
c. Implement appropriate mitigation or treatment if impacts are identified.
39.3 Members in the mining sector shall not use riverine disposal of tailings or waste rock.
39.4 Members in the mining sector shall not use marine or lake disposal of tailings and waste rock from land-based mining facilities unless:
a. A thorough environmental and social analysis of alternatives, using scientifically valid data, was conducted that showed marine or lake tailings disposal creates less environmental and social impact and risk than a land-based tailings facility; and
b. It can be scientifically demonstrated that there will be no significant adverse effect on coastal or marine species and habitats; and
c. There is long-term impact monitoring, including for cumulative impacts, and provision made for a mitigation plan.
40.1 Members in the mining sector using cyanide in the recovery of gold and silver shall ensure applicable sites are certified to the International Cyanide Management Code.
41.1 Members in the mining sector where mercury is contained in saleable products, by- products or emissions shall adopt responsible management practices to control and reduce mercury emissions using best available techniques or best environmental practices that take into account technical and economic considerations. At minimum, this shall be in accordance with applicable law and in line with the Minamata Convention.
41.2 Members using mercury in mining or processing activities shall take steps to control, reduce and, where feasible, eliminate their use of mercury and mercury compounds, and their emissions and releases to the environment of mercury. They shall use time-bound action plans for doing so.
a. Members shall not practice whole ore amalgamation or open burning of amalgam
(or processed amalgam) under any circumstances; in residential areas they shall not practise the burning of amalgam. They shall not practice cyanide leaching in sediment, ore or tailings to which mercury has been added without first removing the mercury.
b. Members shall take steps to prevent vulnerable groups being exposed to mercury, particularly children, women of childbearing age and pregnant women.
42 MINE REHABILITATION AND CLOSURE
42.1 Members in the mining sector shall prepare and regularly review a mine rehabilitation and closure plan for each mining facility. New facilities shall have a closure plan from start-up, and existing facilities shall establish a comprehensive plan as early as possible.
42.2 For each mining facility, members in the mining sector shall engage regularly with local stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, communities, artisanal and small-scale miners, employees and regulators, about mine closure and rehabilitation plans.
42.3 Members in the mining sector shall estimate the cost for implementing the mine rehabilitation and closure plan for each mining facility, and shall establish financial provisions to ensure availability of adequate resources to meet closure requirements. Closure funding estimates should be reviewed periodically during the mining lifecycle.
42.4 Members in the mining sector shall adopt good practice techniques for rehabilitating environments disturbed or occupied by mining facilities. They shall seek to establish an appropriate self-sustaining ecosystem, or other post-mining use agreed through stakeholder engagement during mine closure planning.
Read the complete Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices