The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has been thrown into chaos with internal disagreement leading to the resignation of exeutive director Iris Van der Veken today.
Within the last 24 hours the RJC has experienced loss of two major members, with Richemont and the Pandora Group announcing an end to their association with the Council due to a lack of action over Russia’s role in the Ukrainian conflict.
While the RJC boasts of a membership count exceeding 1,400, the loss of the Pandora Group ($AU2.95 billion in annual revenue) and Richemont ($AU20.82 billion in annual revenue) marked major losses in status for the Council.
Now, Van der Veken, who has served as executive director since 2019, has resigned from her post.
It’s awkward timing to say the least. On Monday, the RJC made a public post on social media website Linkedin congratulating the then executive director on her three-year anniversary with the organisation.
The core issue dividing the RJC – which was founded in 2005 – has been what action in response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in late February.
Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond mining company, is one-third owned by the Russian government. Alrosa provides approximately one third of the world’s rough diamond supply and just last week, was directly sanctioned by the UK government as a punitive measure in response to the Ukrainian conflict.
Alrosa voluntarily stepped down from the position of vice chair of the RJC in early March, however the move was marked as temporary and since then, the RJC has not commented on the matter publicly.
In public statements following the resignation, both Richemont and Pandora Group representatives lamented the RJC’s lack of response to the Ukrainian invasion. Three major diamond retaillers – Signet Jewellers, Tiffany & Co and Brilliant Earth have all announced the decision to not purchase Russian rough product.
In a statement released to Rapaport, RJC chairman David Bouffard said the board began an “arm’s length, independent, third-party legal assessment” following the invasion in alte February.
“The RJC appreciates that the pace of this process may be frustrating, but this is an unprecedented situation, which is constantly changing and requires that the time be taken, to ensure that due process is followed as exhaustively as possible,” the statement read. “It will, however, be concluded imminently.”
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