All that glitters is not gold

REPORT | 10 December 2011
Foto: Mats Wingborg

Jewelery is a luxury and should be enjoyed. But the trail from the mine to the store features child labour, corruption and money laundry. That is the findings of a report published by Swedwatch, The Church of Sweden and Fair Trade Center.

There are approximately 700 jewellery stores in Sweden and almost half of these are owned by the companies Iduna and Smycka. There are social and environmental risks in the whole supply chain within the jewellery industry. The risks for the Swedish jewellery industry have increased because a larger part of the production takes place in Asia.

A large part of the gold that is used to make gold jewellery in Sweden is recycled. However, when manufactured abroad the origin is generally unknown and much of it is believed to consist of newly extracted gold, particularly when the jewellery manufacturing takes place in Asia. Large-scale gold extraction is marred by great environmental- and health risks for employees, local people and surrounding areas; silicosis is a common disease among miners around the world.

During Swedwatch’s research work, Iduna as well as Smycka and the concerned trade associations have openly accounted for what plans they have to strengthen their CSR work. However, Swedwatch has not been permitted to visit the concerned supplier factories, so interviews have taken place outside the factories instead, after working hours.

The conclusion is in line with the recommendations Swedwatch make that Swedish jewellery companies need to launch active CSR work, raise awareness among their employees and take responsibility for their production chain.

Swedwatch also recommends that Swedish companies and trade associations engages in international initiatives to effectively utilize existing processes, which are involved with making the production chain more sustainable.

Made in collaboration with: Svenska kyrkan och Fair Trade Center