Jewelers CAN Trace Their Gold

Photo by: Miners work in the grueling conditions of an open pit gold mine in Watsa, northeastern Congo. © 2004 Marcus Bleasdale / VII
Gold from Conflict-Free Mines in Congo Sold in US Jewelry Stores

By Juliane Kippenberg Associate Director, Children’s Rights Division, Jo Becker Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division

People in the United States will now be able to buy jewelry made with “conflict-free” gold from Zales and Kay Jewelers, two of the nation’s largest jewelry retailers.

The RAGS (Responsible Artisanal Gold Solutions) Forum announced last week the first “conflict-free” supply chain from an artisanal mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to US retailers. This is good news – even though the amount of gold coming this way may be small.

In the past, many mainstream jewelers have understandably avoided “conflict minerals” such as gold from the Congo because of its links with violent and abusive armed groups and elements of Congolese security forces. The RAGS initiative, supported by USAID and civil society groups, worked with a local mine in South Kivu to improve working conditions, address human rights issues, and ensure full traceability from the mine site to the retailer. The gold has been manufactured into earrings now sold by Signet Jewelers, the world’s largest diamond retailer and the parent company of Zales and Kay Jewelers.

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